These are not necessarily the best New Zealand horses ever, some are out and out great, and some have put in one great or memorable performance. Horses have been included where there is video available, hence the inclusion of predominantly modern day horses.
Racing in NZ sometime in the 1920's
When it comes to NZ Legends, there is none bigger than Phar Lap. Bought for, what was at the time, a mediocre 160 guineas at the NZ Sales by American David Davis, he leased him to Australian trainer Harry Telford. Spurned on by a huge 14lb heart and large frame, Phar Lap went on to phenomenal success in Australia and the US, where he mysteriously died from an unspecified illness.
A Tribute - Hero to a Nation (Make that
Showgate, the 'Queen of the South', suffered a slight fracture of the sesamoid bone during the running of the 1977 Trentham Stakes, but still won in a track record time, and also became the first dual winner of the New Zealand Horse of the Year award.
Few gallopers have won their way into the hearts of New Zealand racing fans like Grey Way, also known as the 'Washdyke Wonder'. Not a Bonecrusher or Rough Habit, but just as special, having amassed 51 wins from an incredible 164 starts. Here he is downing Sydney Cup winner Oopik in his debut over 2000 metres in the 1976 Awapuni Gold Cup.
VAN DER HUM's Melbourne Cup
Unheralded Van Der Hum lined up for one of
the wettest and boggiest Melbourne Cups in history and, as it turned out, he
revelled in the conditions.
'No other New Zealand horse can claim success in as many countries as this globetrotting stallion from Cambridge' - Mark Taylor in Century of Champions (Harper Collins)
Balmerino won 5 Group One races in New Zealand and Australia and then went on to American and European campaigns, including a 2nd placing in arguably the most prestigious weight for age race in the world, the 2400m Prix de l'Arc at Longchamp. He finished with 22 wins in 4 countries but with luck could have had 24 in 6.
Successful over 1200 to 2400 metres, and having won 17 Group races, 3 at Group One level, La Mer takes her place alongside Show Gate, Horlicks and Sunline as one of the best mares to come out of New Zealand since the 2nd World War. Here she is in 2 videos, the first where she demolished the 1977 NZ Oaks field and the second winning the 1979 Air New Zealand Stakes, coming from near last on the turn along the inside with an explosive run.
KIWI's Melbourne Cup
Kiwi was not a champion horse in terms of the quantity of top-class victories. But some might say his victory was the best Melbourne Cup win in history, coming from virtually last on the home bend to weave his way to an astonishing win. Here is the last 400 metres of that 1983 Melbourne Cup victory.
Often, perhaps unfairly, compared with Phar Lap and sometimes therefore known as 'The Modern Day Big Red'. Will be remembered not only for his great ability and his popularity but, most notably, for his part in the so-called 'Race of the Century', the head to head dual with Waverley Star in the 1986 WS Cox Plate.
KOTARE CHIEF's Auckland Cup
The 1987 Auckland Cup was host to possibly the most daring ride of an Australasian Group 1 two-mile race of the 20th century. Watch and see ....
Luckily for Hawke's Bay farmer, Graham de Gruchy, the deal to sell Horlicks for $15,000 early on fell through. Because Horlicks went on to become still the only New Zealand horse to have won the Japan Cup. This race video is included here, along with the Japanese commentary.
The winner of 11 Group One's. Probably his best known performance was his 1992 Stradbroke victory, when, with regular jockey Jim Cassidy aboard, he came with a bursting run, weaving through the field from a long way back to win. As testament to his popularity, 'Roughie' even appeared on a New Zealand postage stamp. This vid is from the NZTM Hall of Fame
One of the many New Zealand bred horses to ultimately be trained in Australia and go onto big things. In 1991, Let's Elope (The Grand Dam) became the first female in more than 50 years to take the Melbourne Cup-Caulfield Cup double. Her later career was marred by injury and she was forced to retire early, but with the memories of those golden two years. Her 1991 Melbourne Cup victory follows.
To Be Continued ..............