I’ve seen some great racehorses in my time, and had some particular favourites.
I remember as a kid being taken to the races by my grandparents and watching the great Manikato thunder down the straight. Manikato was a big, powerful beast of a horse. There was little finesse in its racing, it simply went hard and fast again and again until its legend was made.
Possibly my favourite horse of all time was Kingston Town. This was one of the great horses in Australian racing. He was a dark, handsome, imperious beast. There was something almost patrician about him, a born to rule attitude that smacked down the impertinent rivals that threatened to upset that. He had a mean determination that verged on arrogance, as well as a turn of speed. He was brave though too, winning an impossible Cox Plate along the way and missing the most courageous Melbourne Cup win ever by just a nose. In between he won more big races than any other horse.
A horse rarely mentioned now is Northerly, but I loved him for his stubborn courage. He was never the quickest horse, but he was as honest as they come. He would go out front, or close to it, and horse after horse would come after him. He wouldn’t falter, and never quit. He just kept on going while the horses behind fell away. He won some big races, but the classic probably was the 2001 Cox Plate when behind the great Sunline and a few hundred metres to run he just did the business.
I was in love with Might and Power – no horse was better named. He was a handsome brute who could do with ease what other horses could only dream about. I watched many times as he sat off the lead until the moment arrived when he’d click into a gear no other horse possessed. He would tear up the turf overpowering the leaders and flash by the winning post. He was strong, and quick, but tough too, proud, capable of winning any race, and good enough to win the cups double, as well as the Cox Plate
I had a soft spot for Makybe Diva, not because she was a great mare, but because I feel like I discovered her. I remember marking her down at some race meeting after an impressive place and thinking this horse will be a good ‘un – though I had no idea how good. I had always had my money on her after that.
There have been many other great horses through that time – Sunline, Bonecrusher, Octagonal (another favourite), Saintly, So You Think, Black Caviar. The latest great horse is Winx, and today I saw it win the most impressive Cox Plate ever. She was breathtaking.
You know there’s something fundamentally moving about a great racehorse. It’s that combination of power and grace and beautiful lines that seduces you. They are innocent beasts that gallop fast because they can, for the pleasure of it. For the simple punter there’s something spiritually uplifting about something so elementally pure.
I had tears in my eyes as Winx went by the winning post. She won the best race in the land by 8 lengths, going away. It was literally hold your breath stuff. I won’t ever see the likes of that again.
Today was Winx‘ 13th win in a row, and second running Cox Plate. It’s a great horse, how good we don’t yet know.