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History of South Australian Horses in the Melbourne Cup
by Jenny Barnes.

Adelaide bred, owned, trained and raced horses have been involved in the history of the Melbourne Cup since the early days of the race. Within 12 years of the first edition of the Cup in 1861 an Adelaide bred horse had proven successful though his ownership at the time hit the headlines rather than the state of his origin.

Don Juan was bred by John Barker and despite his good breeding was sold for a seemingly low price of 50 guineas as a 2yo to James Wilson of St Albans Stud Victoria. It was reported that a leading bookmaker of the time Joseph Thompson bought the horse soon afterwards but put him on a private sale list when the horse did not live up to early expectations. In the spring of 1873 he began to show some form and reportedly Mr J O Inglis bought him days before the Melbourne Cup. In winning the race he set a new race record time before going to win the Royal Park Stakes over 2 miles and Flemington Plate 3 miles before the end of the carnival. His former owner stunned at news of the sale re purchased Don Juan for 2000 pounds after his trio of victories. It proved to be a bad decision as after his next start in the Canterbury Stakes the following January Don Juan died from an apparent ruptured blood vessel in his heart.

Eleven years later Adelaide again played a role, albeit small, in the career of the 1884 Cup winner Malua. After completing the Newmarket/Oakleigh Plate double Malua had his first staying test in the Adelaide Cup on a heavy track. After he duly won he was set for and proved victorious in the Melbourne Cup the following spring. Later in his career he won a VRC Hurdle then went on to stud siring the 1891 Cup winner in Malvolio.

The drought was broken in the 1922 Cup with King Ingoda. Years before CL Dubois had attended the dispersal of Sol Green's Shipley Stud (at which both Comedy King and his son Artilleryman future winner of the 1919 Cup were also sold) and purchased a broodmare called Ingoda. She was in foal to Comedy King and the resultant foal was King Ingoda. Raced in partnership with RW Bennett he did his early racing in Adelaide before being sent to James Scobie as an autumn 3yo. He won the Easter Cup before returning to Adelaide to win the SA St Leger before a fourth in the Adelaide Cup. The following spring he took out the Hotham Handicap before fighting hard with the favourite The Cypher over the final furlong to take out the Melbourne Cup by a head. He returned to win the Adelaide Cup but couldn't regain his form the following season and was retired to stud. Unable to sire anything of worth he was eventually sold off for 100 guineas to be a station sire.

Bitalli the following year was purchased by James Scobie on behalf of Mr AT Craig after an unplaced run in the Sydney Cup. Bought for 1000 guineas AT Craig thought that the horse could pick up some races in South Australia and soon after his purchase won the Tattersall's Cup in July. He was then entered for the Melbourne Cup but didn't start again until the race itself. In the run he was midfield before moving to fourth 4 furlongs from home. He hit the front in the straight and defied all challenges to win by 3/4 of a length. Bitalli was then set for the Port Adelaide Cup but performed poorly only managing third. It was found that he had contracted pneumonia and succumbed to the ailment soon after.

In 1931 Phar Lap was the hot favourite despite his massive weight but the SA bred White Nose was to prove the victor. Bred by grazier H P McLachlan he had won at 2 years but lost form at 3. By the autumn of his 4yo season he showed a glimmer of form in running second to Carry On in the Australian Cup. The following spring he won the Hotham Handicap before backing up in the Cup. With connections deciding to take advantage of his lightweight he led most of the way in the Cup to kick away in the straight to win by 2 lengths from Shadow King with Concentrate third.

The first mare to win for SA was Rainbird who was bred by M Reid and sold to his brother CA Reid. After doing most of her early racing in Melbourne she returned to Adelaide after winning the Wakeful Stakes and finishing an unlucky second in the VRC Oaks. That autumn she won the Elder Stakes (9f) then the SA St Leger (14f) before failing in the Birthday Cup. Transport problems resulted in her being behind in her preparation for the spring in 1945 and in the Caulfield Cup she was being hailed the winner before her condition gave out in the final stages with St Fairy winning the race. Unplaced in the Moonee Valley Cup she was sent out at 12/1 for the Melbourne Cup. Racing in a forward position throughout she was 5th on the home turn before sprinting clear with a furlong to go defeating Silver Link by 2 1/2 lengths with Leonard third. After the Cup she was returned to Adelaide to win the Port Adelaide Cup and then went on to Sydney for a second in the Sydney Cup before being retired to stud.

The start of the Cummings dynasty in the history of the Melbourne Cup was in 1950 with the victory of superstar Comic Court with the youthful Bart Cummings as his strapper. Comic Court escaped several near misses in paddock accidents as a youngster before winning the Fulham Park Plate at 2. Soon after he broke free at Morphettville trackwork and bolted onto Anzac Highway before continuing into Morphett Road before being recaptured unharmed. After a fourth in 1948 and being unplaced in 1949 Comic Court performed at his peak at 5 years recording a record time of 3.19.5 in defeating classy Chicquita in the 1950 Melbourne Cup. Sent for a spell he showed his versatility in Jan 1951 in the William Reid Stakes (6f) where he stormed home to beat Flying Halo in another record time of 1.9.75. He completed a hat trick of record breaking wins in the Orr Stakes at Moonee Valley where he record a course record for the mile in defeating Chicquita. He retired to stud at Warlaby Stud in Victoria before heading to Kambula Stud at Kadina. After another stint in Victoria he finally stood for Kevin and Beverley Winn first at Windam Stud at the Coromandel Valley then Talinga Stud at Tungkillo before his death at 27 years on February 17 1973. His progeny included Comicquita, Droll Prince, Gurney, Gay Comic, Harcourt and Asian Court.

Between 1963 and 1969 all the Melbourne Cups but one were taken out by horses linked with SA. Gatum Gatum in 1963 was bred by M Reid who had previously bred Rainbird. This time he refused offers to sell the horse and realised his dream of breeding and owning Melbourne Cup winner. As a 3yo Gatum Gatum won the SAJC Derby was unplaced in the VRC Derby but regained form to win the Batman Stakes (12f) at Flemington. He was targeted at the 1962 Melbourne Cup but the presence of Evens Steven convinced his connections to wait for the following year. Placed in the care of Graham Heagney he won twice and was placed twice before heading to Melbourne for the Cup. After two unplaced efforts he ran second to Sometime in the Caulfield Cup starting at 66/1. After a 4th in the Moonee Valley Cup Adelaide jockey Jim Johnson was given the ride in the Cup. Starting at 25/1 Gatum Gatum was well placed in the first four throughout racing clear inside the final furlong. He went to the line a length clear of Ilumquh with Grand Print in third. After being unplaced in the 1964 Cup he was retired to Reid Stud near Gawler to end his days.

The Cummings trained trio of Light Fingers, Galilee and Red Handed won the Melbourne Cups from 1965 to 1967. Light Fingers came into the care of Bart Cummings after he and Adelaide owner WJ Broderick had enjoyed success with her full brother The Dip. Though not for sale her breeders offered a lease and she was soon in training in Adelaide. After winning 3 of 4 starts at two she won first up over 5 furlongs at Victoria Park before going on to win the Edward Manifold, Wakeful and VRC Oaks. In the Autumn she won the AJC Oaks and took her record to 10 wins from 16 starts. Set for the Melbourne Cup at 4 years she suffered from a virus early in the spring but recovered to run second in the Turnbull Stakes. More bad luck followed and she hurt a shoulder when she clipped heels during the Caulfield Stakes. It was touch and go if she would be fit in time but a third in the Mackinnon Stakes reassured connections. In the Cup she was in the leading group most of the way and at the furlong mark only had to catch Ziema to win. the seemingly giant Ziema and tiny Light Fingers fought stride for stride until right on the post Light Fingers poked her nose in front to win. She returned to the race in 1966 but was no match for then stable superstar Galilee and was retired to stud and lived to her late 20s. Galilee was purchased for Max Bailey of Adelaide and was building his career on the tracks of Adelaide in spring 1965. He had begun his career with a second in a 2yo race at Gawler before progressing at 3 to win 7 from 11 starts including the Birthday Cup. After an unplaced effort over the straight course at Victoria Park he went to Melbourne then Sydney for a second in the Epsom Handicap. Returning to Melbourne he recorded victories in the Toorak then Caulfield Cup before Tobin Bronze and Prince Grant relegated him to third in the Mackinnon. This didn't deter punters and he started favourite in the Cup where he dropped to the rear early before starting to make ground from the mile. Into the straight Duo was in front but with the crowds roaring Light Fingers ranged up to him as Galilee set out in pursuit. Light Fingers got the better of Duo but in the final stages it was all Galilee powering down the centre of the track to win under hand and heels by two lengths. Returning in autumn he was twice defeated by Tobin Bronze before winning the Queens Plate and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Flemington. Taken to Sydney he took out the Autumn Stakes before winning Sydney Cup. However during the running of the Cup he was strike on the leg by another horse which resulted in a splinter of bone being broken in his foreleg. After 18 months away from the racetracks he returned to racing but could not recapture his previous form. Galilee was retired to share a paddock with Ziema before moving to a property at Oakbank where he lived until his death in the late 80s. Shortly before his death plans were made for him to be buried at Gawler but whether this occurred remains unconfirmed. Red Handed was also bought at the NZ sales by Bart Cummings this time for Adelaide businessman FW Clarke for 860 pounds. Starting his career as a late 3yo he had 10 starts for 6 wins and 3 placings that autumn. Returning at 4 years he won the Queens Cup at Morphettville before heading to Victoria where he fell in the 1966 Geelong Cup fracturing a bone in his hock. He recovered to race first up and win over the straight 5f at Victoria Park before heading interstate again. After running second to Tobin Bronze in the Toorak Handicap he lined up in the Caulfield Cup. Unable to match Tobin Bronze he again filled the runner up position before running fourth in the Mackinnon. Starting as the equal favourite in the Melbourne Cup he was ninth by the half mile mark and had taken the lead on straightening. A furlong from home Red Crest challenged and drew a neck in front but under desperate riding Red Handed fought back in the closing stages to regain the lead and go on to win by a neck. When he died in the 80s Red Handed was buried behind the grandstand at Strathalbyn near the mounting yard.

CA Reid emulated his brother in breeding and owning a Cup winner in 1968 and again in 1969 when Rain Lover proved successful. After managing only 1 win and 1 placing from 5 starts at 2 years Rain Lover showed at 3 years when the young stayer won 3 of his 9 starts (with 5 placings) including the 1968 Adelaide Cup. Set for the Cups in the spring he was well beaten in a 5 furlong race at Victoria Park before running second at 100-1 to Lowland in the Craiglee. The talented mare again had his measure in the Underwood Stakes before he ran third in the Caulfield Stakes behind Future. He peaked for his three runs over the Cup carnival at Flemington and after winning the Mackinnon Stakes from Fileur and Galilee he went into the Cup at 7-1 with Jim Johnson in the saddle. Rain Lover was prominent early being in 6th place past the post first time as a horse fell and others including Galilee suffered interference back in the field. Moving up to 4th by the half mile he continued making ground to be second on straightening. Ridden right out in the straight Rain Lover bounded away to win eased up on the line by an official margin of 8 lengths in a race record time of 3.19.1 which stood until 1990. After the Cup he added the CB Fisher Plate on the final day before a spell. He resumed first up third behind Manihi at Morphettville before returning to Victoria winning the St George Stakes, Queen's Plate and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Taken to Sydney he won the Chipping Norton before Lowland had his measure in the Sydney Cup. In his final season he won the Craiglee Stakes and Underwood Stakes before being defeated by Fileur in the Turnbull Stakes. Two unplaced runs followed before he defended his Melbourne Cup title. Well placed in running he tried to kick clear on straightening but the big weight of 60.5kg had dulled his sprint. Alsop ranged up alongside and appeared to hit the front but Rain Lover fought back hard and at the finish proved to strong for his lightweight challenger holding the lead by a head on the line. He had become the first horse since Archer to win successive Melbourne Cups. After resuming at Morphettville under 66kg in an unsuitable sprint he went to Melbourne to again win the St George Stakes and Queen's Plate. He was beaten in a 'match race' with Big Philou in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes before heading to Sydney and victory in the Autumn Stakes. He was retired to Glenacres Stud at One Tree Hill and moved to Tarwyn Stud in NSW when SA studmaster Peter Andrews & family moved in 1975. Rain Lover was paraded for his SA fans before the 1988 Adelaide Cup nearly looking good enough to compete himself. He died of cancer on May 18 1989.

Think Big continued the success of Melbourne Cup winners racing early in Adelaide. Beginning his racing on South Australian tracks like Strathalbyn and ending up in Brisbane within 15 starts his record read as 5 wins and three placings including a third in the Brisbane Cup. After wintering in Brisbane he was set on the Melbourne Cup trail. His lead up form including a last in the Metropolitan and unplaced efforts in the Coongy and Moonee Valley Cup but it was thought he was not handling the 'squelchy' wet tracks. The tracks were still rain affected when he won the Hotham Handicap but he seemed to handle Flemington on the day. During the Cup he was stuck midfield with nowhere to go as they straightened. He finally got clear making ground to the 200m where he had only Leilani in front. With 50m to go he caught the great mare to stride on to victory. He then continued to the Perth Cup running third before being spelled for the following spring. Again he had shocking form in the lead ups and again the runs were blamed on the wet tracks before he lined up in the Cup. During the race he was positioned in the first half of the field until they turned for home and Think Big began his charge for home. With 200m to go he was alongside the leader and took over shortly afterwards as Holiday Waggon chasing in vain. Defying all challenges he emulated Rain Lover in winning successive Melbourne Cups. In 1976 he was aimed at the Cup again but a virus ended his campaign and in 1977 he started to suffer from chronic lung problems which led to his retirement. Think Big eventually retired to Harry Whites' property at Gisborne where he shared a paddock with Hyperno until his death in the mid 90s.

Gold and Black was the last of the Cummings winner to be purchased in New Zealand then sent to Adelaide to start their careers. He was raced in partnership with Jack Harris of Adelaide and H Gage of Sydney. In 1976 he had won the Mackinnon Stakes before finishing a valiant second to Van Der Hum in the Cup. In 1977 after running second to Reckless in the Sydney Cup he was found to be suffering from severe pneumonia with only round the clock nursing at Manyara Stud near Adelaide keeping him alive. It was feared he may have suffered lung damage but his proved he had made a full recovery during his spring campaign where after running second in the Mackinnon he ran as a favourite in the Cup. During the race he made steady ground from the half mile to hit the front in the straight. His only challenger was Reckless who for a fleeting moment looked like winning all the major cup races for the year but Gold and Black had plenty in reserve coming away in the final metres. After a fourth in the CB Fisher Plate he was spelled before missing the next two Melbourne Cups through injury. When he was retired he became a Clerk of the Course horse on South Australian racetracks before his death in the mid 80s. Gold and Black was buried at Gawler racecourse.

In 1980 the first of the 'modern day' imports proved successful. Trained by Colin Hayes Beldale Ball had been imported to race for Robert Sangster and won at his first Australian race in May over 2600m. Despite this he was only allotted 49.5kg for the big race and began his spring campaign in a 1400m race at Balaklava, winning at 12-1. Sent to Melbourne he ran second to Mr Independant in the Herbert Power Hcp and was again runner up in the Hotham Hcp to stablemate Bohemian Grove. In the Cup John Letts took Beldale Ball to a forward position finding the lead at the 2000m as others behind him became involved in bad interference including the favoured My Blue Denim. Beldale Ball was well in front turning for home and defied all challenges to win by 1 1/2 lengths from My Blue Denim with Love Bandit third. He was later sold for stud to the US and was last reported to be in Switzerland.

Another Hayes trained import proved successful in the 1986. At Talaq was owned by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashad Al Maktoum and had started his career in England before being sent to Australia for the Cups. After running second in the Caulfield Cup behind Adelaide Cup winner Mr Lomody he won his first Australian race in the Mackinnon Stakes. Three days later he ran down Rising Fear to take out the Melbourne Cup before a spell. Returning in the autumn he won the Orr Stakes first up before being in front everywhere but the post in a memorable clash with Bonecrusher in the Australian Cup. Soon afterwards he was retired to Lindsay Park and started a successful career at stud before moving to Victoria and dying at a relatively young age from a reported heart attack.

jeune.jpg (14071 bytes)David Hayes had taken over the Hayes training establishment by the next SA Cup winner. Jeune (pictured right)  had done his early racing in England before being sent to Australia and a Cups campaign. First up he tackled the states best sprinting race finishing midfield but only a few lengths from the winner. Spelled he began his Cups campaign in a Flying at Cheltenham when he failed to run down noted speedster Barway by a neck before heading to Melbourne. After a third to Mahogany in the Craiglee he powered to victory in the Underwood Stakes leaving established stars Paris Lane and Mahogany in his wake. After a disappointing race in the WS Cox Plate he was sent out wearing blinkers and pacifers for the Mackinnon Stakes resulting in an unlucky second to Paris Lane. Despite his return to form Jeune was sent out at 20-1 for the Melbourne Cup and after a gaining a rails run at the top of the straight raced away in the wet conditions for an easy victory over Paris Lane. Resuming the following autumn he finished strongly to win the CF Orr Stakes before being runner up to champion sprinter Schillaci in the Futurity and Starstruck in the Australian Cup. After another two placings he returned to the winners list in fighting off the star 3yo Danewin to win the Queen Elizabeth Stakes. After being unable to return to the form that won him Horse of the Year in 94-95 he was retired to Lindsay Park Stud. With his first crop racing last season he produced several 2yo winners with his progeny expected to improve as 3yos.

skybeau.jpg (24386 bytes)In recent years Skybeau (pictured right) has represented SA well in the big race with his best finish a third behind the champion Saintly in 1996. This year the local hopes will be Streak who already has the Moonee Valley Cup and Sydney Cup victories and Oxford Dollar who showed great staying promise during 1999-00 along with Skybeau attempting to line up for his fifth straight Cup. Both Streak and Oxford Dollar are now trained by Victorian stables but remain owned by South Australians.

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