The Sydney Telegraph’s turf editor, Ray Thomas, is a walking encyclopaedia when it comes to sport and last week he penned an interesting column regarding the ‘Unbreakable Records of Racing’.
We’ve run it in full here, but would be interested to hear your views on a factoid which Ray might have omitted.
AS THE mighty Black Caviar is readied for her New Year return in the Australia Stakes at Moonee Valley on Friday, talk will inevitably resume about her record unbeaten sequence.
Black Caviar is aiming for her 17th win in as many races and every time she competes it is like watching racing history in the making.
Black Caviar has set - and continues to improve - a record that may never be broken.
It reminded me of a recent article in the US Daily Racing Form by Bill Christine which ranked the 10 most unbreakable US racing records.
Christine listed some of the great achievements in US racing, such as Secretariat’s staggering 31-length Belmont Stakes win in a phenomenal time of 2min 24sec in 1973, jockey Kent Desormeaux’s 598 winners in one year, trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ six straight Triple Crown wins and Kelso’s five US Horse of the Year titles.
So, inspired by Black Caviar and the US list, here’s my version of Australian racing’s 10 unbreakable records.
1: Bart Cummings - 12 Melbourne Cups (1965-2008)
This record will stand forever - 12 Melbourne Cup winners including five quinellas. Cummings trained his first Melbourne Cup winner in 1965 when Light Fingers beat her stablemate Ziema. He has since won the Cup with Galilee (1966), Red Handed (1967), Think Big (1974-75), Gold And Black (1977), Hyperno (1979), Kingston Rule (1990), Let’s Elope (1991), Saintly (1996), Rogan Josh (1999) and Viewed (2008).
Why this is unbreakable: Cummings’ Melbourne Cup record is more than double that of next best, Lee Freedman and Etienne De Mestre with five each. His Cup effort is like Don Bradman’s batting average - he’s twice as good as the rest.
2: Phar Lap - Four wins during 1930 Melbourne Cup Carnival
Phar Lap, the greatest of them all, won on each of the four days during the 1930 Melbourne Cup carnival at Flemington. On Derby Day he won the Melbourne Stakes (Mackinnon Stakes) over 2000m, then shouldered 62.5kg to win the Melbourne Cup (3200m) and backed up two days later to win the Linlithgow Stakes (1600m) before returning on the final day to win the C.B. Fisher Plate (2400). Phar Lap’s four races covered 9200m, with an aggregate margin of 13 1/2 lengths.
Why this is unbreakable: It’s rare for a horse to back up twice, let alone three times at the Flemington Cup carnival. They just don’t run over each of the four days anymore. Phar Lap’s record will stand for eternity.
3: Tommy Smith - 33 straight Sydney premierships (1952-1985)
In the toughest training environment in Australian racing, Smith was able to remain unchallenged as premier trainer for 33 consecutive seasons, an extraordinary achievement. Smith’s reign as premier trainer ended when Brian Mayfield-Smith won the title in 1985-86. But Smith showed why he was one of the all-time greats by winning back the title for the 34th time in 1988-89.
Why this is unbreakable: Smith’s 33 consecutive premierships is a world record and a unique example of sporting dominance.
4: Makybe Diva - Melbourne Cup three-peat (2003-05)
Since the Melbourne Cup was first run in 1861, only four horses have managed repeat Cup triumphs: Archer (1861-62), Peter Pan (1932, 1934), Rain Lover (1968-69) and Think Big (1974-75) - until Makybe Diva. She won with 51kg in 2003, then returned the next year to set a weight-carrying record for a mare with 55.5kg, only to smash that record in 2005 when she shouldered 58kg to a magnificent win.
Why this is unbreakable: There’s more chance of Kingston Town’s Cox Plate hat-trick (1980-82) being equalled, perhaps bettered, than Makybe Diva’s three Melbourne Cups ever being repeated. Quite simply, it is beyond any stayer to win four Melbourne Cups.
5: Black Caviar - Unbeaten in 16 starts
Black Caviar is so superior to her rivals she has rarely been tested in winning her first 16 races. She is deservedly rated the world’s best sprinter and is set to extend her record winning sequence next Friday night.
Why this is unbreakable: The previous record to start a race career was Grand Flaneur’s nine wins from as many starts, including the 1880 Melbourne Cup. His benchmark stood for more than 130 years, equalled only by Mollison, Eye Liner and Rancher but never bettered before Black Caviar made racing history.
6: Carbine - The 1890 Melbourne Cup
The legendary Carbine was asked to carry a crushing 10st 5lb (66kg) when he lined up against 38 rivals. Carbine proved his greatness when he set a weight-carrying record, winning by 2 1/2 lengths and establishing a race record.
Why this is unbreakable: No horse will ever be asked to carry such a huge weight again and the Cup field is restricted to 24 starters.
7: Bernborough - 1946 Doomben Cup
Bernborough was arguably the greatest weight carrier of them all. During his famous 15-race winning streak in 1946, he was asked to lump 10st 11lb (68.5kg) in the Doomben Cup. This should have been mission impossible but Bernborough made light of his handicap to win the Group 1 race easily.
Why this is unbreakable: Similar to Carbine and his 1890 Melbourne Cup win, the handicapper will never again allot a galloper the equivalent of 68.5kg in a Group 1 race.
8: Guy Walter - 2005 Doncaster Handicap trifecta
Guy Walter’s effort to prepare the first three placegetters - Patezza, Court’s In Session and Danni Martine - is truly one of the best training feats of the modern era. Gai Waterhouse’s Golden Slipper trifecta in 2001 deserves an honourable mention.
Why this is unbreakable: The Doncaster is run under handicap conditions over the exacting Royal Randwick 1600m course.
9: Malua - Racing’s most versatile champion
Can you imagine any horse having the speed to win the Oakleigh Plate-Newmarket Handicap double and, in the same year, the stamina to win a Melbourne Cup? Well, that is just what Malua did in 1884. Four years later, just to underline his versatility, Malua won the Grand National Hurdle.
Why this is unbreakable: In the modern era, racehorses are bred to be specialist sprinters and/or stayers. And it would be sacrilege to see a Melbourne Cup winner end his racing days over the jumps.
10: Banker, Briseis, Grace Darling, Belmont Park, Tulloch - Only the once
Banker won the 1863 Melbourne Cup with a record low weight 33.5kg. Briseis was ridden by a 13-year-old apprentice, Peter St Albans, when she won the 1876 Melbourne Cup. Grace Darling won the 1885 Caulfield Cup after 41 horses lined up at the start, 16 fell on the home turn, two horses lost their lives, and jockey Don Nicholson was also killed. At Rosehill in 1954, Belmont Park won successive races, a 2000m graduation and an 1800m welter. Tulloch won the AJC, VRC and QTC Sires Produce Stakes as a two-year-old in 1957, then later that year won the AJC, VRC and QTC Derbies.
Why these are unbreakable: Racing rules have changed, raising minimum weights, limiting field sizes, placing age restrictions on jockeys, and preventing a galloper from racing twice on the same day. As for Tulloch, his big-race hat-tricks in the Sires and Derbies will never be repeated.
OK everyone, thinking caps on … send you unbreakable record to email@example.com