With the origins of racing dating back as far as the early 1800s when racing was taking place in Sydney’s Hyde Park and you had to travel out to the bush in Victoria to see the sport of kings in action records have continually been set and broken right up to modern day.
Where Duais equaled the record of being only the second Mare in history to win both the Australia Cup and the Tancred Stakes, both at Group 1 level we take a look at the other top performers at the top of Australian Horse racing and those who sit atop the throne of Group 1 racing.
Makybe Diva - Three Melbourne Cup Wins
What better place to start than looking at the Great Makybe Diva who saw her record equaled by Duais in late March 2022. For Edward Cummings having Duais achieve such a feat and only being a four year old he may have one eye on the records of Makybe Diva and those of his Grandfather, Cups King Bart Cummings in winning multiple Melbourne Cups with his stable star.
Makybe Diva currently stands head and shoulders above the rest of the horse racing community having successfully won 3 Melbourne Cups in a row between 2003 and 2005 and to this day remains as the most successful horse in the Melbourne Cups history.
Piloted by Glen Boss for all three wins in the Melbourne Cup Makybe Diva won her first as a 5 year old in 2003. Makybe Diva started the race as a second favourite that day at $8 but come her third throw at the stumps in 2005 when chasing a three-peat she would travel the Flemington track as a $3 favourite.
Many have tried to achieve the level of the champion mare with the likes Think Big (1974, 1975), Rain Lover (1968 ,1969) and Archer (1861, 1862) all winning two editions of the Melbourne Cup but only Makybe Diva has ever won three.
Since the achievements of Makybe Diva no horse in recent history has gone close to replicating her feats with only individual winners taking out the richest weight for age contest in the world despite contenders traveling from all over the globe to try and emulate the great mare.
The Horse With The Most Group 1 Wins Overall
Where Makybe Diva was the best in the race that stops a nation, we don’t have to travel too far into history to find the Horse with the best record at Group One level with Winx having retired as a 7 year old in 2019 with 25 Group 1 Wins. The most in the modern day era.
Winx racked up an impressive number of Group 1 titles that included three George Main Stakes titles (2016, 17, 18), three Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2017, 18, 19) as well as a pair of Turnbull Stakes (2017, 18) across the border in Victoria.
Where Winx really separated herself from the pack though was in her outright dominance in weight for age contest where she completed two four-peats of two of the biggest WFA races in Australia. The The Chipping Norton and the time honored W.S. Cox Plate.
It almost became a procession with Winx where she would return to the track in late August and pick up a handful of Group 1 titles before claiming the Cox Plate - a race she would win four times in a row between 2015 and 2018.
Trainer Chris Waller would then spell the great mare before she would return to the track in imperious fashion and claim the Apollo Stakes at Group 2 level, before taking out the George Ryder Stakes followed by victory in the Chipping Norton Stakes which she would also win 4 times between 2016 and 2019.
While it is without doubt that Winx is the most dominant racehorse in recent years there is some merit in the argument that Phar Lap could have the most Group 1 wins (27) when you look at the races he won that have now been reclassified as Group 1 races. However as they were Phar Lap only recorded 13 Group 1s as they were at the time.
Horse With The Most Group 1 Wins In A Season
When it comes to most Group One wins in a season though there is no room for discussion as Winx once again stands head and shoulders above the crowd having won a record breaking 7 Group One contests in a single racing season.
The triumph came for the Chris Waller trained mare in her farewell season of 2018-19 where she won a staggering 7 Group One contests which led to her retiring with an even more jaw dropping 33 race unbeaten record.
In that single season Winx was able to win The Winx Stakes, The Colgate Optic White Stakes, Turnbull Stakes, W.S. Cox Plate, Chipping Norton Stakes, George Ryder Stakes and round out the season with a Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
Such was the feat that Winx surpassed her own record of six Group One titles which she achieved in the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons that she held alongside hall of famer Kingston Town and the great Weekend Hustler.
Many have achieved an impressive 5 Group One titles including the likes of Lonhro, Sunline, Manikato, Might and Power, Bonecrusher and Apache Cat but none have surpassed the efforts of Winx who holds the record for the most Group Ones in a season.
So surely if Winx holds the record for most Group One titles in a season and the most Group One victories ever surely she stands alone as the Greatest Racehorse of all time? A sprinter by the name of Black Caviar might disagree.
The Best Win Ratio by A Racehorse
While you can’t knock any of the achievements by Winx the only blot on her copy book is that she put together an undefeated run of 33 straight wins but it was 37 wins from 43 starts overall meaning she had a win ratio of 86%.
Black Caviar holds the record for best strike ratio by a racehorse in Australia after having gone undefeated in all her 25 career starts making it a perfect 25 wins from the 25 times she lined up on race day.
During her career under trainer Peter Moody, Black Caviar won 15 Group One titles during her 25 starts including a trip to Royal Ascot in the UK where she won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes defeating a french trained filly named Moonlight Cloud.
The Ascot trip was a big gamble for Moody and Black Caviar’s ownership group who were pitting there horse against the worlds best and it nearly told as jockey Luke Nolan eased up with 50m to go and nearly lost the race and lost the record completely.
At the time though and after Ascot glory Black Caviar was designated as the greatest racehorse ever by many racegoers until Winx showed she was more than capable in 2016. However the one thing Black Caviar will always have is that she truly went undefeated and remains the only racehorse to retire undefeated with a 100% strike rate after winning multiple Group One titles.
Most Group One Wins By A Jockey
So what about the jockey’s then. The men who ride these magnificent beasts around the best tracks in Australia. Who holds the records here.
If we were to look purely race by race the late Bobby Lewis and Harry White have won the most Melbourne Cups with 4 apiece. Or perhaps we look at the Cox Plate where the late Darby Munro won an amazing 5 times between 1933 and 1987.
But who has won the most Group One horse races of all time? Well that would be current jockey and proud Victorian Damien Oliver who has won a total of 126 Group One titles including 3 Melbourne Cups, 4 Caulfield Cups, 7 VRC Oaks and 6 Victoria Derbys.
Oliver only passed the achievements of George Moore in recent years when he held the record of 119 wins at Group One level. The pair are still a significant margin clear of 3rd and 4th Placed Roy Higgins (108) and Jimmy Cassidy (104) and with both retired it’s hard to see them catching Oliver.
At 49 years old Oliver has a decent amount of time left in his career with Glen Boss retiring only last year at the age of 52, so it will be interesting to see what benchmark he can set for the remaining active chasing pack.
Hugh Bowman remains a live chance to catch Oliver's record over time having just reached 100 Group 1 titles and doing so at 8 years his junior; however at the moment Damien Oliver remains the Australian Jockey with the most Group 1 wins ever.
Which Trainer Has The Most Group One Wins
When we’ve looked at the best horses, we’ve looked at the record holding jockey’s there seems only one more logical place to look when we evaluate Group One records and that of course is with the trainers or training partnerships that allow racing fans to witness such great talent.
In terms of overall Group One wins there are two trainers from yesteryear who hold impressive numbers and they are Tommy John Smith affectionately known as T.J. Smith and Bart Cummings the Grandfather of Edward Cummings who’s win in the Tancred triggered this look back down memory lane.
Both TJ Smith and Bart Cummings have won 246 Group One titles. Both had careers that spanned almost a century with TJ Smith (1916 - 1988) and Cummings (1927 - 2015) both training into there 70s.
TJ Smith had a host of great racehorses that included Tulloch, Gunsynd, Kingston Town, Redcraze and Red Anchor. With such talent he was able to amass an impressive two Melbourne Cups, four Caulfield Cups, seven W. S. Cox Plates, six Golden Slippers and thirty five Australian Derbies.
Cummings was able to produce such high calibre talent as well with Light Fingers, Sainlty and Think Big all on the roster. Across his trainer career the Cups King was able to amass 12 Melbourne Cups, seven Caulfield Cups and thirteen Australian Cups.
Such were the feats of Cummings and Smith that current trainers Chris Waller and Gai Waterhouse are over 100 Group One wins behind the pair.
Where Do The Next Horse Racing Record Holders Come From
The records we’ve covered could be viewed as once in a lifetime achievements. To see Winx win 33 straight will be hard to beat. To win 246 Group Ones and train horses for the best part of 60 years will be hard to beat. However there are signs the next crop of talent are poking through.
When we look at Jockey’s for instance we could take James McDonald as an example. J-Mac has just passed the 50 Group One win mark and at 30 years old looks to have a bright future ahead.
Its fair to say that when jockey’s find a good one they ride the wave. For instance Hugh Bowman rode 13 Group One wins in a season once but that was when he had Winx to walk in seven of those whereas McDonald has been averaging at 6 Group 1 titles for the past three seasons.
Then from a trainers perspective and also a close link to McDonald is Chris Waller. In the post Winx era Waller has continued to deliver an average of 10 Group One winners per season and at that rate should be going close to the 246 record set by Cummings and Smith.
Finally the horses. It’s hard to predict when you have a good one. All you can do is look at the form on the day and the talent on the track but it’s undoubted we will see another Winx or Black Caviar one day and perhaps Duais could be the one to watch out for?