Horse Racing in Australia – Fun Facts

Some people take their Thoroughbred racing quite seriously. You see them at the track on a gorgeous day, looking grim, or perhaps in need of some of the laxative (Danthron) someone slipped to Big Philou just before the 1969 Melbourne Cup. To lighten these grim people's mood we gathered a list of fun-to-know facts about Australian Horse Racing.

Regardless of whether you fall in with the grim crowd, the fun crowd, or somewhere in between, Thoroughbred racing is more fun when you have a little bit on the outcomes of the races. We ourselves could be said to be in the middle. We like racing, but if for some reason, other than viral threats to the horses, it were to stop completely, we would be okay. In that light, here are some Fun Facts about Australian Thoroughbred racing we have accumulated. Remember a few of these the next time you feel as though the horses are all engaged in a vast conspiracy to empty your pockets.

Fun Fact: Big Philou, After Winning the 1969 Caulfield Cup, was Heavily Backed to Win the Race 

That Stops a Nation. Estimates put the Cups Double wagering on Big Philou beyond half a million dollars.

Funner Fact: With Big Philou holed up in the Flemington horses’ loo, Rain Lover won the 1969 Melbourne Cup to supply the bookend to his 1968 win. Rain Lover became the first horse since Archer (1861, 1862) to win consecutive Melbourne Cups.

True, But Not So Fun Fact: Peter Pan won two Melbourne Cups, but his wins came in 1932 and 1934 

He was absent from the race in 1933, battling a viral disease that nearly killed him. The virus wreaked havoc on the Sydney stables, much like the 2007 Equine influenza did later.

Fun Fact: Horses Do Not Observe Social Distancing and Blinkers are no Substitute for a Good Surgical Mask

On that topic, we are not as intimately familiar with horses as many people are, but our limited exposure convinced us that Thoroughbred racehorses seem to suffer from the opposite of constipation, as the blokes who muck the stalls will attest.

Fun Fact: Maybe the Danthron Belonged to Bart Cummings, who was Reputed to be Quite Cranky at Times

If anything, Gastro-Stop might be the better choice for horses.

Then again, that grim-looking punter might have forgotten his online bookmaker login, but refused to venture to the betting ring to seek out one of the few rails bookies.

Some people cavort around the course deliriously happy. The race meeting reminds them of all the fun they had as children going round and round on the carousel. They select runners by looking for the horse name they best fancy.

They win a lot.

Made Up Fact: An anonymous punter, anonymous because he prefers not to be known as “that bloke,” bet heavily on a budding mare named Winx to win The Group 1 ATC Oaks on 11 April 2015.

Winx jumped for $2.80, but our unknown punter had got the bet on early for $3.

Winx lost the race to Gust Of Wind by 2.5 lengths and is now the answer to the racing question, “Which was the last horse to beat Winx in anything other than a barrier trial?”

It was to be the last time Gust Of Wind won anything.

Our anonymous punter vowed never again to back Winx. Looking for revenge, he plunged hard on Hartnell, Humidor, Le Romain and Happy Clapper. That last one seems to have been bred just to lose to Winx.

Fun Fact: In the 2019 Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes, Out of a Field of Seven

Happy Clapper was the only horse not prepared by Chris Waller. Waller had three $101 chances in the field. Decent horses, too, but no match for the Sydney Super Mare.

Made Up Fact: Chris Waller instructed his other riders in the Chipping Norton at Randwick to make the trip Melbourne way.

Waller would be credited with the Winx prize money of $344,000. His other five horses collected $112,000 in prizemoney, including a combined $18,000 by Libran, Patrick Erin and Brimham Rocks, all of which jumped for $101.

Fun Fact: 80 Percent of Success is Simply Showing Up

Check with Chris Waller if you do not believe us.

We seem to have lost our place. Where were we?

Right. Our anonymous punter.

After watching Winx win 32 consecutive races, a fun racing fact in and off itself, our unnamed punter decided to forgive Winx.

He scraped together every dollar he could manage, even borrowing a bit from his mates. He put the entire sum on Winx in the All-In market for the 2019 Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Winx won, of course, but with a starting price of $1.06, our mystery punter barely broke even.

One Hundred Percent True Fun Facts about Racing

Favourites win about 1/3 of the time. Punters need to pick the one race from three the favourite will win and also get the punt on for a price that returns enough to account for bookie fees.

The prestigious Cups Double, winning the Melbourne Cup in the same year after winning the Caulfield Cup, has only been done 11 times.

Rarer still is winning the Cox Plate followed by the Melbourne Cup. This has only happened seven times. The horses were Makybe Diva, Might And Power, Saintly, Nightmarch, Phar Lap, Delta and Rising Fast.

Jockey Peter St. Albans was a week shy of his 13th birthday when he won the 1876 Melbourne Cup riding Briseis.

Briseis won the Melbourne Cup as a 3YO filly, not the only 3YO to win, but she also won the Victoria Derby and the Oaks in the span of six days.

There were only seven horses in the 1963 Melbourne Cup won by Gatum Gatum.

England’s Grand National Steeplechase and the Melbourne Cup are the two most heavily bet races in the world. Both races attract viewing audiences or around 600 million people.

Malua won the 1884 Melbourne Cup and he also won the Grand National Hurdle. Did he pull a sulky in either race?

The Pearl (1871), Wotan (1936), Old Rowley (1940) and Price Of Penzance (2015) all won going off at $101.