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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Successes in Australia

The larger prizes offering in Australia and the strong betting rings in Sydney and Melbourne were a tremendous lure to early New Zealand owners and trainers. It seems that Nelson sent the first horses to Sydney in 1858 — Strop, Miss Rowe, H. Redwood's Zoe, Zingara, Io, and Waimea, Chevalier, and G. Duppa'sWildrake, Phoebe, and Camden. At Homebush Chevalier and Strop won every race they started in. When the first Champion Race was run in Melbourne Zoe ran second to Flying Buck, with Miss Rowe fourth and Strop fifth. Zoe won the second Champion Race at Sydney, with Wildrake second. Strop finished fourth, but collapsed and died in the enclosure. Zoe went on to win a third Champion Race at Ipswich in Queensland. For 10 years there were few New Zealand horses raced in Australia, and few successes, because the Australian best were superior horses. But when the stock of Traducer started to race, there were more successes.

Melbourne Cup

In 1870 Redwood sent Manuka (The Peer – Waimea) over to Melbourne in charge of Edward Cutts to be prepared for the Melbourne Cup. Peeress went too, and won the Royal Park Stakes at Flemington. But Manuka failed to run as he did not stand training. He went to the stud in Australia. In 1879 Lancelot Walker and G. G. Stead sent Le Toup over for the Melbourne Cup. He was heavily backed but was pulled up in the race after his saddle slipped. The winner was a stablemate, Darriwell, the acknowledged inferior of Le Toup. Later at the meeting Le Toup won the Victorian Racing Club Handicap, but in weight-for-age races he was beaten by Chester.

Martini-Henry was the first New Zealand bred horse to win the Melbourne Cup (1883) and, two years later, the stayer Trenton was beaten only by a head by Sheet Anchor. (He was owned by G. G. Stead and was backed to win £80,000.) In 1890 Carbine carried 10 St. 5 lb and won in record time from the largest ever field of 39 runners. Apologue had a surprising win in 1907, and in 1916 the fine stayer Sasanof (by Martian) won. The brilliant Nightmarch won in 1929. Phar Lap won in 1930. He carried 9 st. 12 lb and started the shortest price favourite in the history of the race. The next New Zealand-bred winner, Wotan, started at 100 to 1 and made a race record. The eight-year-old gelding Catalogue won in 1938, somewhat surprisingly, as he had formerly been a miler. New Zealand horses have succeeded more often since the Second World War. Hiraji won in 1947 and Foxzami in 1949. Dalray carried 9 st. 8 lb to win in 1952, but was not quite as brilliant as Rising Fast which, after winning the Caulfield Cup with 8 st. 10 lb, won with 9st. 5 lb in 1954. In 1955 Rising Fast again won the Caulfield Cup carrying 9 st. 10 lb and made a brave bid to win his second Melbourne Cup with 10 st. 2 lb, but was beaten by another New Zealand runner, the seven-year-old Toparoa, carrying only 7 st. 8 lb. Successes by Straight Draw in 1957 and Macdougall in 1959 preceded New Zealand's dominance in the finish of the Centenary Melbourne Cup in 1960 when heads separated Hi-Jinx, Howsie, and Illumquh. Even Stevens won in 1962 to become the fifth horse to complete the Caulfield Cup – Melbourne Cup double.

Caulfield Cup

New Zealand horses have often won the Caulfield Cup, especially since the Second World War. Following 1953 they have almost dominated the race. Gaine Carrington, a half-brother to the Melbourne Cup winner Wotan, was the first New Zealand-bred winner (1933), with Beaulivre (1940), St. Warden (a division in 1940), Grey Boots (1950), and then My Hero (1953), who began the run of successes by Rising Fast (1954 and 1955), Redcraze (1956), Tulloch (1957), Sir Blink (1958), Illumquh (1960), Summer Fair (1961), and Even Stevens (1962).

Sydney Cup

New Zealand horses have nothing like the same record in the Sydney Cup. The first and most famous winner was Carbine, successful in 1889 as a three-year-old with 9 st. 0 lb, and in 1890 with 9 st. 9 lb. Mosaic was the next winner in 1939 and 1940. Gold Scheme won in 1954 and Straight Draw in 1958.

Metropolitan Handicap

New Zealand horses have had much success in the Metropolitan Handicap. The first winner (1884) was the Traducer horse, Sir Modred. Maniopoto and Solution, both by Soult, won in 1905 and 1906 respectively, followed by Pershore (1920) and the fine Martian gelding, Star Stranger (1926), Waikare (1934), Sir Regent (1937), Royal Chief (1938), Beau Vite (1940), Nightbeam (1944), Count Cyrano (1949), Dalray (1952), Commodore (1954), Redcraze (1956), Straight Draw (1957), Monte Carlo (1958), Macdougall (1959), and The Dip (1962).


Although stayers have been most successful in Australia, New Zealand three-year-olds have also made their name in the Australian classics. Martini-Henry's success in the V.R.C. Derby in 1883 was the first, followed by Nordenfeldt (1885), Carnage (1895), Phar Lap (1929), Theio (1934), Tulloch (1957), Sir Blink (1958), and Travel Boy (1959). In the Australian Jockey Club Derby, Nordenfeldt had the first win, and there was no other until the brilliant Noctuiform won in 1905. Kilboy in 1916 and Cupidon (1921) were the next, although the New Zealand owner, G. D. Greenwood, won with Biplane (1917) and Gloaming (1918), both, however, bred in Australia. Ballymena won in 1923, and Phar Lap in 1929, followed by Ammon Ra (1931), Theio (1934), Homer (dead heat in 1935), Monte Carlo (1956), Tulloch (1957), Summer Fair (1961), and Summer Prince (1962).

Weight-for-age Races

There have been several outstanding horses in weight-for-age races, but no one team has ever equalled the performance of the G. G. Stead – R. J. Mason combination in 1905, when, with four horses Noctuiform, Sungold, Nightfall, and Isolt, they won eight races at the spring meeting at Randwick. L. H. Hewitt rode Noctuiform to win the A.J.C. Derby, with Sungold second. The latter won the New Stakes and the Grantham Stakes on the later days of the meeting. Isolt won the Spring Maiden and Wycombe Stakes and the Members' Handicap, and Nightfall won the Squatters' Handicap and Randwick Plate. New Zealand horses won the whole of the second day's programme at this meeting.

Successful Horses

From 1918 until 1928 R. J. Mason had outstanding successes with the horses of G. D. Greenwood. The Australian-bred Gloaming was the best of these and, in eight seasons, won £43,100 for 57 wins from 67 starts. He was unplaced only once when he fell at a start. Gloaming ended the supremacy of T. H. Lowry's mare Desert Gold, which still holds the record of 19 successive wins in New Zealand and Australia. H. A. Knight and his trainer F. D. Jones took Limerick, a half-brother by Limond to their A.J.C. Derby winner Ballymena, to Australia in the spring of 1926. Beaten in both Derbies, Limerick won the A.J.C. St. Leger in the autumn and went on as a four-year-old to dominate the weight-for-age races.

Nightmarch might have been one of the greatest stake winners in Australasia had he not had the misfortune to race in Australia at the same time as Phar Lap. Although he beat the latter in the Melbourne Cup in 1929, Phar Lap was incomparable. From 1929 to 1931 Phar Lap dominated the Australian scene, so much so that Nightmarch and others were unjustly regarded as lesser lights. After Phar Lap's departure, New Zealand horses continued to play a prominent but not a dominant part in the big races. Veilmond won the V.R.C. and A.J.C. St. Legers in 1931 and, at four and five, was successful in several weight-for-age races. Gaine Carrington, a son of Hunting Song, ran successfully in 1933–34. Limarch won the A.J.C. St. Leger in 1934. In 1935 the brilliant Gold Rod appeared and, as a two-year-old, won the A.J.C. Breeders' Plate and the V.R.C. and A.J.C. Sires Produce Stakes. As a three-year-old he won the A.J.C. St. Leger, at four, the Epsom Handicap, and at five, the Doncaster Handicap. The brilliant staying mare Cuddle also won the Doncaster Handicap in 1936, no mean performance for a mare that had won a New Zealand Cup and two Auckland Cups previously.

From 1938 to 1943 New Zealand was represented by five good horses: Royal Chief, Defaulter, Beau Vite, Beaulivre, and High Caste. Defaulter won a comparatively modest sum in stakes, even though he met every good horse of his time except Ajax and was never beaten at weight-for-age amongst strong opponents. Unsoundness restricted his career. Beau Vite and High Caste proved very tough and brilliant horses and earned higher stakes.

Since the war New Zealand has been represented in Australia by many classic, weight-for-age, and handicap performers. The rise in stake values has resulted in Phar Lap's stake-winning record in Australia or New Zealand being surpassed. The first three horses to do so (Rising Fast, Redcraze, and Tulloch) were all New Zealand bred. The first two were also New Zealand owned, as was Prince Cortauld, the winner of over £50,000 without being successful in a classic or Caulfield or Melbourne Cup. Like Tulloch, he never raced in New Zealand. These four horses all earned much more than Dalray, the first of the post-war champions, yet, after his Melbourne Cup win with 9 st. 8 Ib, he was regarded as one of the best horses since Phar Lap. Somerset Fair, Syntax, El Khobar, and Monte Carlo also have distinguished records.

The winnings of the main New Zealand horses to have raced in Australia and New Zealand, or in Australia alone, since 1914 are:

Horse Number of Wins Stake Earnings
Desert Gold 36 23,133
Limerick 28 ½ 38,729
Nightmarch 24 32,116
Phar Lap 37 70,121*
Ammon Ra 18 25,831
Veilmond 19 21,616
Gold Rod 16 18,920
Royal Chief 23 18,697 ½
Defaulter 22 11,315
Bean Vite 31 27,770
Beaulivre 20 17,075
High Caste 32 35,678
Grey Boots 14 30,920
Dalray 14 39,678 ½
Somerset Fair 28 35,876
Prince Cortauld 35 51,050
Rising Fast 34 66,765
Redcraze 32 71,481
Straight Draw 11 ½ 37,628
Fair Chance 17 33,612
Sir Blink 10 31,860
Tulloch 36 110,363 ½
Macdougall 11 38,479

*Also given as £66,738.

†Including three dead heats.

‡Only winners of over £30,000 are listed after 1945.

Successes in India, Britain, and the United States

Between the wars several good performers, notably Karapoti, Cillas, and Martara, were sold to India and raced successfully there, but the market died when racing virtually ceased.

At the turn of the century, the 1897 New Zealand Derby winner Multiform was sent to England, but he failed to strike form and his owner, G. G. Stead, exchanged him for Siege Gun, which also did not match his New Zealand form. Multiform returned to the stud in New Zealand and sired Noctuiform, which was also sent to England after his brilliant three-year-old career. He had won the New Zealand Cup, New Zealand Derby, and the Canterbury Cup at the New Zealand Cup meeting in 1905.

In 1958 Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was given Bali Ha'i by the owner, Sir Ernest Davis, after the gelding had won the St. James Cup at a special Royal meeting at Trentham. Bali Ha'i travelled to England and, though delayed by injury, raced in 1959 and won the Coombe Stakes at Sandown and the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Ascot. He also ran third in the Cesarewitch.

After Phar Lap's success in the Agua Caliente Handicap in 1932, Pillow Fight and Tea Trader were sent to the United States, where they raced with moderate success. Since the Second World War several horses have been sold there and raced successfully, among them Classowa, Annand, Wandering Ways, Braganza, and Cadiz, the last named being by far the most successful. Knave, Monte Carlo, and Prince Cortauld were sent from Australia. El Khobar, winner of the Doomben Ten Thousand in Australia, was raced successfully in the United States by his owner.

Next Part: Great Horses