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Message: I was checking through the long range futures markets for the spring and thinking how few "iron horses" we seem to have these days-the type of durable G1 performer who goes around in a stack of races and keeps performing season after season.
Now it seems the spring is a succession of stories of horses out with injuries, retired early, or one hit wonders who have a good spring but never repeat.
I decided to do an analysis of the 90s vs 2000-2011 focusing on the local runners in the Cups/Cox. I drew up the following criteria to define an Australasian iron horse in the context of those races-
-Must have won a G1 in Australia -Must have started at least 50 times in their career. Had to pick a number and that seemed a fair one. -Must have won or placed in any of the "Big Three"
1990s starts/wins/2nds/3rds Shuzohra 57-15-8-9 Sydeston 65-19-7-10 Super Impose 74-20-24-8 Castletown 102-16-9-11 Solvit 52-15-7-4 Air Seattle 57-7-7-5 Rough Habit 74-29-16-7 Count Chivas 53-7-11-3 Iron Horse 72-11-4-9 All Our Mob 74-13-17-15 Skybeau 79-8-7-5 Catalan Opening 52-9-8-11 Tie The Knot 62-21-9-8
2000-2011 Douro Valley 58-8-8-7 Yippyio 59-14-9-6 Mr Prudent 73-10-8-6
13 for the 90s vs 3 since.
Adding in the criteria that the horse must have won a G1 WFA race in Australia gives-
7 for the 90s, Sydeston, Super Impose, Castletown, Solvit, Rough Habit, All Our Mob, Tie The Knot
1 since, Douro Valley
Douro Valley looks the odd one out there, with a sole Group 1 win in the Caulfield Stakes and one Group 1 placing in the Caulfield Cup.
So clearly the true top grade, durable iron horse is now much more of a rarity than 15-20 years ago.
No doubt there are a range of opinions why.
A few notes on the near misses-
Scenic Shot is currently at 74 starts, but with a best Cups/Cox effort of 5th in the 2009 Cox Plate.
Zipping (47), Mummify (48) and Master O'Reilly (48) were close to the 50 start criteria, but obviously so were a few of the 90s horses so even adding them in the point would remain.
Sunline was eligible for both decades but only had 48 starts.
Distinctly Secret (63) placed in a Caulfield Cup but never won a G1 in Australia.
Grey Song (65) and On A Jeune (54) missed out because they never won a G1.
Durbridge (72-21-8-7) and Juggler (60-15-16-10) missed out due to their respective best placed efforts of 6th and 4th in the Cox Plate.
All In Fun (115) is the most recent 100+ starter to run in both Cups and the Cox, five times in total from 1994-1998.
"By the end of his juvenile season Magic Gleam had raced 13 times for five wins, including two victories at Randwick and one at Warwick Farm. The chestnut would eventually race 132 times for 25 wins, 19 seconds, 19 thirds and $537,920 in prizemoney."
Magic Gleam doesn't fit Carrot's criteria but he was certainly an iron horse. So is Peter White's money horse Jungle Ruler. If you backed Jungles at every one of his 108 starts at flat stakes you would have a POT of 80%.
Also, in that article Kris Lees claims
"Lees thinks with the introduction of European-bred stallions and mares to the Australian landscape, horses with a constitution similar to Magic Gleam's and Bomber Bill's may belong to a bygone era.
"A lot of the European types don't seem to cop the racing and work," he said. "Even the old English horses don't have as many starts as horses like Magic Gleam and Bomber Bill."
There maybe something in that but Bomber Bill, Magic Gleam and Jungle Ruler don't really support the view in terms of their pedigrees. Neither of them have long Australasian pedigrees - but they all seem to have a very prominent American influence.
Message: Although he doesn't qualify under your 'Iron Horse' criteria, I think that probably the best Iron Horse I've seen, so far this century, is the Sydney galloper County Tyrone.
He had his first start at Newcastle in June 2001 and ended his career at the same track in September 2008. In that time, he started in 87 races and covered a total race distance of 176.5 kms.
During his career, County Tyrone raced at the top level of Australian distance racing, winning 9 races including 3 Gr1s (Qld Derby-Sydney Cup- Metropolitan) and being placed in 17 other races including 3 Gr1s (2 Sydney Cups-Brisbane Cup).
For most of the first decade of this century, it seemed that County Tyrone was part of the field for every major distance race in the country, not to mention countless Gr2 Gr3 and Gr4 races.
County Tyrone's 'Iron' constitution saw him line-up in 6 consecutive Sydney Cups where he recorded one win, two seconds, two fourths and an eighth placing.
Author: alcimedes Timestamp:- 21/7/2012 10:59:44 AM Subject: Re: The End of The Iron Horse
Message: There seemed to he heaps of these iron horses going around in the late 80's & early 90's.
Muirfield, I remember Magic Gleam fondly too. Was he trained by Max Lees at Newcastle?
Magic Gleam (1982) - 132:25-19-19 $537,920 - last start Mar 94.
Looked up some records of some other memorable iron horses from the same era, including:
Bronze Knight (1983) - 145:28-18-15 $357,750 - placed in a Geelong Cup (1988?) when with George Hanlon. Later in his career he mixed racing & stud duties (amazing!) and finally retired from the track as a 13yo in Aug 96.
Glen Moriston (1979) - 178:16-7-16 $155,365 - race in Melb for years & won heaps of races at Flemington & Sandown & I think placed in a Turnbull Stks around 1985. Retired as a an 11yo in Jul 91 & went to stud where he sired a couple of horses.
Prince Lindal (1976) - 107:6-8-10 $127,675 - amazingly durable jumper who raced in nearly every Grand National Hurdle & Steeple between 1982 & 1989. Retired as a 12yo in Jul 89.
Play David (1978) - 236:28-22-15 $103,465 - raced mainly in the Northern Rivers of NSW but did win a few in town, retired in Jun 92 at a 13yo.
Give me any of these horses, rather than the weaklings produced today that are burnt out by their 4yo seasons.
Author: MD Timestamp:- 15/7/2012 12:55:43 PM Subject: Re: The End of The Iron Horse
Message: Good one RC - I was just thinking of old Umrum, one of my faves. Was there the day he started fave in the Railway, even though he was drawn just about in the Swan, and saw a little up and coming horse called Northerly win the first G1 of his great career.
Message: If you're including sprinting 'Iron Horses' you'd have to include Redelva. 61 starts between Sept 85 and Feb 93 for a record of 21-13-5. Gr1 wins in the Gadsden, Lightning, William Reid and Futurity as well as Gr1 placings in a Lightning, Futurity and a Newmarket.
A great old favourite of mine who was as tough and as game as they come.
Author: Balciano Timestamp:- 13/7/2012 9:03:48 PM Subject: Re: The End of The Iron Horse
Message: Hi Bill
I picked the book up off ebay - Major Australian Races and Racehorses 1960-1980.
Details every race start of all the great horses from Lord through to Kingston Town, right down to the starting price,prizemoney earned, track conditions etc along with an action shot of the horse in its greatest win.
Apart from the usual champions, any winner of a major race during that period is featured, so you have old warriors like grand stayer River Seine (all 127 starts detailed) and obscure horses like Correct, who only won 6 of 84 starts, and ended his career out at Mt Isa, but somehow managed to pick up 2 Newmarkets along the way.
Includes New Zealand champs like Apollo Eleven Battle Heights and co.
A great reference guide and fascinating read but unfortunately no help whatsoever in finding a winner tomorrow.
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