5 MORE of the Most Legendary Australian Racehorses of All Time

by | 13 May 2022

In our previous blog, we were able to name five of the most iconic equine athletes that have  ever graced the Australian race tracks. Yet, with the vast history of horseracing in Australia, it’s going to take more than just one article to cover all its big names.

In this article, we’re listing five more legendary Australian racehorses that every horse racing fan ought to know. Since many contemporary Australian racehorses today still live in the shadows of these legends, it’s only right that we meet the giants who have cast them.

While some may be more well-known than others, there’s no doubt that each racehorse on this list has made their mark on the track, and in the hearts of horse racing fans all over the world.

Tulloch

Tulloch is often regarded as one of the greatest Australian racehorses in history. His racing career spanned from 1956 to 1958 and saw him achieve 36 wins out of 53 starts. 

Tulloch’s rise to fame was momentarily halted in 1957 when he suffered a severe illness that nearly claimed the Australian racehorse’s life. For many horses, such a setback would be the end of their racing careers, but not for Tulloch. Miraculously, he not only recovered but returned to the tracks with an unrivaled determination that set him apart from his contemporaries.

With victories in prestigious races like the Victoria Derby, Cox Plate, and the Caulfield Cup, Tulloch became an iconic Australian racehorse of his time.

Tulloch’s racing career eventually came to a close in 1961, and he retired to stud as a national treasure. However, his legacy didn’t end there. His bloodline lived on, producing numerous champions in the years that followed.

Flight

Flight was a remarkable filly that dominated racing in the 1940s. During the peak of her career, this Australian racehorse won 24 races, including prestigious events like the Cox Plate and the AJC Derby. 

Flight’s prowess on the tracks was nothing short of legendary, and in a post-WWII world, her victories brought the country much joy

In the 1945 AJC Derby, she stunned spectators by defeating a field of male contenders, becoming the first filly to claim victory in the prestigious race.

Her success didn’t end there; she continued to shatter records, including her jaw-dropping triumph in the 1946 Cox Plate, where she won by an astonishing seven lengths, a margin yet to be matched in the race’s history.

After retiring in 1947, this legendary Australian racehorse embarked on a new journey—this time as a broodmare. Her legacy continued through her offspring, producing several notable champions. 

The impact of her bloodline still resonates in the pedigrees of many successful Australian racehorses today, ensuring that her legacy remains firmly embedded in the sport’s history.

Related: History of Horse Racing in Australia

Sunline

A champion mare, Sunline recorded 32 wins from 48 starts, including back-to-back victories in the Cox Plate in 1999 and 2000. 

Her domination of the Australian racing scene earned her the title of Australian Horse of the Year for two consecutive years (2000 and 2001). 

Her rivalry with fellow legend and Australian racehorse, Northerly, added an extra layer of drama to her career, captivating audiences and showcasing her tenacity and will to win.

Sunline’s talent transcended borders, as she ventured overseas to prove her mettle against the best in the world. The beloved Australian racehorse raced in Hong Kong, England, and Dubai, where she won the 2002 Dubai Duty Free, showcasing her global appeal and cementing her reputation as an international racing sensation.

Though Sunline’s illustrious racing career came to an end in 2002, she retired as one of Australia’s most beloved and accomplished racehorses. By her death in 2009, Sunline’s incredible racing career earned her the adoration of fans and cemented her status as one of the greatest Australian racehorses to grace the race track.

Northerly

Nicknamed the “The Fighting Tiger,” this Australian racehorse’s illustrious career boasts two Cox Plate victories (in 2001 and 2002), a Caulfield Cup win, multiple Group 1 victories, and a remarkable track record that showcased his exceptional ability to carry weight in handicapped races. 

One of the most captivating chapters in Northerly’s career was his fierce rivalry with the legendary mare Sunline. 

Their head-to-head clashes electrified the racing world, pitting two exceptional champions against each other in a battle for supremacy. These showdowns added an extra layer of drama and excitement to Northerly’s legacy.

Eventually, this Australian legend took over from Sunline as champion thoroughbred during the 2000s. 

Northerly retired in 2004 as one of the highest-earning racehorses in Australian history. His impact, however, didn’t end with his final race. He continued to inspire future generations of racehorses, leaving an indelible mark on breeding and racing.

Related: Horse Racing 101: What Are The Different Kinds of Horse Races In Australia?

 

Very Elegant

There’s something to be said about unlikely legends. Despite enjoying a relatively short career, it is noteworthy enough that true equine heroine Verry Elleegant would have her name ringing in the halls among legendary Australian racehorses. 

Sired in 2016, one couldn’t imagine Verry making it as an Australian racehorse at first. During her early years, she was considered “unrideable” due to her broken ankle. Because of this, Verry would often go into a buck when she was ridden.

Despite a rocky start, Verry Elleegant’s journey to becoming a racing legend has been marked by a series of breathtaking triumphs. 

Her list of victories includes prestigious races such as the Australian Oaks, the Vinery Stud Stakes, and the Tancred Stakes. Winning 11 Group One races, each win showcased her versatility, resilience, and remarkable ability to thrive in a variety of racing conditions.

Yet her crowning glory came in 2021, when she won her first Melbourne Cup. At the time, Verry Elleegant was six years old, carrying 57kg—the last mare to carry this weight being the Makybe Diva herself. Against all odds, Verry won her first Cup by two and a half lengths, earning her the moniker “the New Diva” for that season.

Verry’s extraordinary journey as a proud Australian racehorse ended in 2022, following her European campaign. By the time she retired, she was worth over $14 million in career earnings, even proving herself a profitable horse for punters over the course of her career.

Conclusion

From the incomparable run of Flight to the inspiring journey of Verry Elleegant, each horse has left an indelible mark on the sport and captured the imagination of generations of racing enthusiasts.

While many of these legends have retired or gone to rest, it’s a comfort to know that their greatness lives on, not only in their descendants, but in the love and adoration of horse racing fans all over the world.

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