Leilani Was Foaled In 1970 In New Zealand
Numerous events restricted to fillies and mares, along with a seeming soft spot in the hearts of Australian punters for the lady thoroughbreds that have captured not just their imaginations, but those of the general public as well, would seem to play a major role in the special bond that seems to exist for them. leilani
One by the name of Leilani seems to exemplify this feeling to a great degree.
Even though she did not have the physical traits and good health that would have permitted her to doubtlessly win double what she did, her impressive results place her squarely in the top echelon of Australian racing history.
A product of New Zealand, Leilani was foaled in 1970 with lines that were predominantly British and Kiwi.
Her sire was a Great Britain stallion by the name of Oncidium, a racer of modest accomplishments known for producing competent stayers and 28 stakes winners in all.
Her dam was a New Zealand native named Lei, a broodmare of sufficient noteworthiness to earn 1975 New Zealand Broodmare of the Year accolades.
Lellani Only Lightly Raced
Leilani made only 20 starts in her racing career, but she won 14 of those, and placed well in the others, including a second in the 1974 Melbourne Cup, where she went off as the favourite, even though the distance was well beyond that of any of her victories.
She was formidable at distances from 1400 metres to 2400 metres, versatility no doubt honed under the skilled supervision of her trainer, Bart Cummings.
Her racing career as a three-year-old in the 1973-74 season included the 2400 m AJC Oaks and Princess handicap, a 2000 metre affair. She hit her stride as a four-year-old, winning top flight races at a pace that is doubtlessly the source of much of her fame.
She won nine major events that season, again proving her ability at 2400 m with a victory in the Caulfield Cup.
She also won a Toorak handicap, the C. F. Orr Stakes and the St. George Stakes, all three around a mile in length, more or less. She stepped up in distance to notch the LKS Mackinnon Stakes at 2000 m, the Queens Cup at 2500 m, the 2000 m Turnbull Stakes, the Australian Cup and the Queen’s Plate.
Just Gets Beaten In The Melbourne Cup By Think Big
The highlight of the Spring Racing Carnival, the Melbourne Cup, saw Leilani going off as the favourite, despite having her stable mate, Think Big, as formidable competition. She had the lead with 50 metres remaining, only to have Think Big run her down in a dramatic finish in one of the more strategically run Melbourne Cups.
This remarkable season was more the sufficient for Leilani to be recognised as the Australian Horse of the Year amongst four-year-old mares.
The following season, 1975-76, as a five-year-old, injuries hampered Leilani to the extent that she jumped only six times for that campaign. She did manage to produce a second consecutive victory in the St. George Stakes.
The conclusion of her racing career found her with six Group 1 wins, along with the then all-time earnings record for a mare.
Her progeny, three total, preceded her rather untimely death in May of 1990. Although her career, as well as her life, was brief, her exploits on the turf secured her place in the history of racing.
She was and is a legitimate candidate for the Racing Hall of Fame, a contention that would brook no dispute if it were not for 50 metres of Flemington racecourse that prevented her from notching racing’s Crown Jewel.