Horse Of The Month

Horse Of The Month Best Horse Of The Month

It is exciting to bring to you our Horse of the Month. This page will be a chance to celebrate the horse that is making every post a winner and getting the heart racing for punters at the track and at home.

In most cases, our selected horse will be a local Aussie horse, but we will not be strictly limited to that basis and on rare occasions an international horse may force our hand due to exceptional performances on the race track. The criterion for selection is, quite simply, race winning performances that stand out from the pack.

Nature Strip - Horse Of The Month February 2019

We have always found it easier to declare a Jockey of the Month than to pick the Horse of the Month.

February is a short month, increasing the difficulty to a slight degree. Many of the top horses are back after a spell, but with the way the 2019 calendar worked out, many of the top candidates ran only once, if at all, their connections saving them for the meat of the campaign that gets underway in earnest in March.

We can easily declare that we did not pick Winx this month. Through no fault of her own, she resumed with the Group 2 Apollo Stakes. She would have been a shoe-in to win the Group 1 C F Orr Stakes at Caulfield, but Chris Waller has made it plain that he no longer wants to float his champion to the southern tracks.

Nature Strip Horse Of The Month November 2018

So, perhaps out of sentiment, we have elected Nature Strip as the Horse of the Month for February 2019.

The sentiment factor is that Nature Strip is one of the unfortunates that were transferred when Darren Weir was stood down. Nature Strip ran for Weir for the last time at Moonee Valley in the Group 1 Moir Stakes during September of 2018, where he had a dismal eighth place finish.

After a spell and the transfer to Chris Waller, Nature Strip won the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes at Caulfield early in the month, leaving a large gap back to second placer Jungle Edge.

We had hoped to see him in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes, but some with more expertise, by which we mean Waller, thought otherwise.

Other experts, notably the Rating Bureau’s Daniel O’Sullivan, ranked Nature Strip’s peak at 106.5, better than Redzel’s The Everest win.

In 14 attempts, Nature Strip has nine wins and two second place finishes, so it would seem as though it is only a matter of time before he breaks through at Group 1 level and becomes the sprinter his ratings, figures, times and sectionals all suggest he is.

His last outing in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate suggests that inconsistency is an issue, as he finished 10th. For his last seven attempts, however he has won five times including four consecutive from June of 2018 through 9 February of the current year.

Congratulations to Nature Strip, the Horse of the Month for February 2019.

Exhilarates - Horse Of The Month January 2019

The Horse of the Month is magic Millions 2YO Classic winner Exhilarates.

Since starting her racing career in November of 2018 at Rosehill, the young filly has been on an upward trajectory that offers some vast promise for the future.

She finished dead last in her first race, a 1200m handicap for two-year-olds at Rosehill. Her next two races produced two seconds, one at Gosford two weeks after her first run and the next of 12 December at Wyong when her trainer, James Cummings teamed her with Kerrin McEvoy.

Exhilarates Horse Of The Month November 2018

On 5 January 2019, she headed a field of 10 at Gold Coast in an easy win over 1100 metres.

The following week, she took the top prize in the Magic Million 2YO Classic, beating Dubious by ¾ of a length, working her way through the field from 14th at the 800m, even dropping back to second-last at the 400m, before unleashing a burst at the end to win in style.

Exhilarates was foaled on 7 September 2016. She is the daughter of Snitzel, a Group 1 winner and six other races. His record includes a third in the same race just won by his daughter.

Winx - Horse Of The Month December 2018

For the Horse of the Month, we once again have to lean on Winx. There is not much racing of significance going on in the country during the month, so be selecting Winx, we are venturing into the realm of Horse of the Year.

Now a seven-year-old, the upcoming autumn campaign might be her last and there is little question that soon after she concludes racing, any doubts of her place in the pantheon of Australian Thoroughbred racing will be erased.

She has not been beaten since the Group 1 ATC Oaks at Randwick in April of 2015. If the topic ever arises and you want to astound your mates, you can mention that she ran second in that race and the name of the last horse to beat her was New Zealand’s Gust Of Wind.

Winx Horse Of The Month December 2018

Here is a look at what she did over her last two campaigns, the spring of 2017 and the autumn of 2018. She has not run below Group 1 Quality since September of 2017. In the middle of that month, she won the Group 1 George Main Stakes.

At the beginning of October, she won the Turnbull Stakes, and then backed with her third Cox Plate win at Moonee Valley on 28 October 2017.

Winx then went for a spell.

When she resumed in March of 2018, the Chipping Norton was the first order of business. This was the start or the continuation of trainers and owners avoiding her and small fields providing her with little in the way of competition. About the only drama was provided by her racing tendency to wait until the final 200 – 300 metres to run down her competitors.

Only five horses lined up against her in the George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill on 24 March 2018. She was the only runner from the stables of Chris Waller, which represented something of a departure from the norm, as Waller routinely had to supply half the field or more in order for there to be a race.

Next up, Winx cruised to a win in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes, beating Darren Weir’s Gailo Chop by nearly four lengths. It more closely resembled a casual gallop than a Group 1 race.

When August rolled around, she immediately won The Warwick Stakes, which had been renamed the Winx Stakes to honour her. Waller did fill out the field for this race, contributing five of the 11 horses.

Following another George Main victory and another Turnbull, she eclipsed Kingston Town and won her fourth Cox Plate.

If we had a Horse of the Decade category, or a Horse of the Century, she might be a lock, even though her century has another 81 years remaining.

Cross Counter - Horse Of The Month November 2018

We could make the November 2018 Horse of the Month Winx, because even when she is spelling, she does that better than any other, but we have hit our limit, having declared her Horse of the Month on multiple previous occasions.

Maybe, someday, we will have a Horse of the Year and we can use her again.

Cross Counter gets the award this month for winning the 2018 Melbourne Cup.

Cross Counter Horse Of The Month November 2018

Cross Counter earned $4.25 million for winning the Cup and that win alone took his winnings from $287,000 up to the current level of $4.5 million. We are rounding, just in case one of our math instructors happens across this.

Cross Counter is a four-year-old bay gelding by Ireland’s Teofilo from Waitress, a U.S. foal that raced in France before being sent to England.

As is the case for many Thoroughbreds these days, there are not many staying races to be found. Cross Counter has just eight starts, running out of Charlie Appleby’s Newmarket operation under the Godolphin banner.

He has placed in seven of those starts, however, and the one time he finished lower than third, it was a fourth in the King George V Stakes, a British handicap of 2414 metres. It was Cross Counter’s first race at Great Britain’s Ascot racecourse.

Later that season, in July of 2018, Cross Counter won a BM 105 over the same distance and the same course by a comfortable two-length margin.

His first win at Group quality followed when he took out the Group 3 Gordon Stakes held at Goodwood, over, you guessed it 2414 metres, which may have tempted some tipsters to believe that Cross Counter would lose at 2413 or 2415, but chances are we will never know.

A second at Group 2 level in the latter part of August of 2018, the Voltigeur Stakes at York was apparently all Charlie Appleby needed to declare Cross Counter his Melbourne Cup horse, so it was on the plane and into quarantine before the Australian debut of Cross Counter at Flemington on November 6.

He jumped third favourite at $9, from Marmelo ($12) and A Prince Of Arran ($21).

Favourite Yucatan ($6) and second favourite Magic Circle were nowhere to be seen and Cross Counter crossed first, with Kerrin McEvoy barely needing to violate the whip rule in the process.

Cross Counter gave Goldolphin its first-ever Melbourne Cup win, improbable as that may sound.

Cross Counter was doubtful for the Melbourne Cup at one point when he suffered a cut to his leg about three weeks prior to the race, but they obviously were able to get him right in time.

Congratulations to Cross Counter, 2018 Melbourne Cup winner and November 2018 Horse of the Month.

Winx - Horse Of The Month October 2018

The Horse of the Month goes to Winx.

This is the fourth time we have honoured her, which seems fitting, as she recently won her fourth Cox Plate.

As much as we hate duplicates, we had no choice.

Winx Horse Of The Month October 2018

The most recent news regarding her is that Chris Waller and the owners plan to let her resume in the fall and we envision that it will not be long before the Royal Ascot business starts up once again.

We supported Waller’s decision to save her for the Cox Plate and we advocated at the top of our voices to keep her out of the U.K., not out of concern that anything there could beat her, but simply out of our conviction that the challengers should come to the champion, not the other way round.

In light of that, we are lending our voice to staying away from Royal Ascot once again.

Save her for a fifth Cox Plate. And a sixth and a seventh….

Godolphin sent a capable challenger over, Benbatl, but Winx beat the two-time Group 1 winner, 2018 Group 1 Caulfield Stakes winner and $7 million dollar earner while scarcely breathing hard.

About the only possible justification we could offer for shipping the noble Winx to England would be so that she could take a selfie with the Queen.

We watched the Cox Plate repeatedly and came to the conclusion that unlike her previous race, The Group 1 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington, where she put a scare into us by sitting off the back until the end, she was never far off the speed in the Cox Plate, so we began celebrating at the 1000 m.

That run could have won the Melbourne Cup, the extra 1200 metres causing no issues, and if the connections had so chosen, she would have won this year’s The Everest at a trot.

We are torn over the announcement that Winx will race again. On the one hand, we would hate to see an ill fate befall her, such as when she missed the jump in her first-up last year, when she stumbled coming out of the barrier in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes.

On the other hand, we want to see how many more she can add to her haul.

Her fans at Royal Randwick and Rosehill would doubtless like one more chance to see her running in Sydney.

After that, we can see what they decide to do, but we will be watching to see how much her first foals commands and which stallion will have the honour of donating his DNA.

Congratulations to Winx, the October 2018 Horse of the Month.

Night’s Watch - Horse Of The Month September 2018

Selecting the horse of the month is never an easy task, but it is one we find very enjoyable, because of the latitude we have when it comes to establishing the selection criteria.

The 2018 – 2019 Australian Thoroughbred racing season is young and has only the months of August and September from which to make a choice.

An era or two ago, two months would have seen a top runner make something in the vicinity of 8 – 10 starts, but today’s elite seldom take the course more than two times per month.

Night's Watch Horse Of The Month September 2018

We would give our mostly ceremonial award to Winx every month, but that would not be proper, so for September, we went to the list of top earners for the young season to pick New Zealand’s Night’s Watch as the Horse of the Month.

As of this moment, Night’s Watch has made four starts in metro Victorian racing and has placed in all four, with two victories, one second and one third. He has earned just below $200,000

Darren Weir’s five-year-old brown gelding is by Great Britain’s Redwood from Australia’s Glory Run. As is typically the case with modern Thoroughbreds, Night’s Watch’s lines are distinctly international. His most notable Australian connection is Exceed And Excel, a winner of seven races, including two Group 1s and the stud for Black Caviar’s first foal. The rest of his line is decidedly northern hemisphere in origin, with several ties to Canada’s Norther Dancer.

Night’s Watch last five outings have produced nothing lower than the third he ran in the Group 2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes at Moonee Valley on 8 September.

The beginning of the month saw Night’s Watch winning at Caulfield in the Jockey Celebration Day Handicap (1400 m), where he jumped as the comfortable favourite and won by 2-1/4 lengths from a field of 13.

He also won at Caulfield earlier in the year and placed second in a handicap at Flemington.

Night’s Watch seems to have the makings of a stayer, with a couple of wins at 2000 metres on his resume.

Most recently, he won the Group 3 Quality Naturalism Stakes, beating Rising Red and Odeon to the post in a Kiwi showcase that found the podium occupied by Thoroughbreds from across the ditch.

Night’s Watch’s good results of late do not come without penalty. He was recently cleared of injury and is aimed at the Caufield Cup in October, where he was given an extra kilogram to carry and the same will be the case if he runs the Melbourne Cup.

Congratulations to Night’s Watch, the September Horse of the Month.

Chautauqua - Horse Of The Month August 2018

There is not much in the way of major racing during the month of August, so it is hard to talk about a horse as being the top performer on the track. Winx won her 26th consecutive to pass Black Caviar in that category, but the former Warwick Stakes renamed Winx Stakes winner will not run again in August.

That is often the case in this era of racing, where a spring or autumn campaign for a Thoroughbred is often limited to four jumps over a three month period, but we knew that for August, 2018, we had not choice to select other than Chautauqua.

The drama surrounding him all month and the several months prior held our attention like nothing else going on in Australian racing.

Chautauqua Horse Of The Month August 2018

There were missed jumps in seven of eight trials, including some where he simply refused to leave the barrier.

There was widespread speculation over what was going through the minds of the trainers and the connections, who seemed determined to get Chautauqua back on the turf at any cost and by any measure.

Late in the month, Racing New South Wales Stewards imposed a lifetime ban on the horse, supposedly out of concern that punters might back him and not receive a run for their money.

An appeal by Chautauqua’s ownership group before the stewards resulted in a reprieve. Along with that news came the story that an anonymity-seeking horse whisperer had been working with Chautauqua to overcome the horse’s reluctance to race.

Many felt that at eight years of age and almost $9 million in winnings, the humane thing to do was supply Chautauqua with a nice paddock and a life of leisure.

An ugly reality reared its head.

Since Chautauqua was gelded, he had no value standing stud.

He made 32 jumps, won 13 times and ran second or third 11 times as a sprinter. He won six Group 1 races, including three T J Smith Stakes at Randwick. He won numerous times at Group 2 and Group 3 races. He won in Hong Kong.

In short, he did everything a trainer collective and an ownership group could ever wish for.

His last official race was the Group 1 Darley Classic at Flemington in November of 2017, where he finished fourth to among others, Redzel, the winner of the inaugural running of The Everest.

We truly hope that Chautauqua receives the life he truly deserves, whether that is a bit more racing or retirement.

Our selection for August is a sentimental one, but just the same, congratulations to Chautauqua, the Horse of the Month for August 2018.

Previous Horses of the Month