Top 5 Racing Moments of 2023
With a racing calendar that now never stops, join us below as we review the top 5 racing moments of 2023. As racing fans, we are truly blessed to live in an era where racing is front and centre 52 weeks of the year.
1. Damien Oliver - The Farewell Tour
Despite the farewell tour lasting longer than a Big Bash season, the ending to the Damien Oliver tour couldn’t have been better scripted. Damien had a lean Melbourne spring compared to his previous lofty seasons, and when he headed west and, in essence, back to his home, he had a point to prove. After all, the racing Gods showed they were human with the Champion hoop winning his last three career race rides, including the Group 3 Damien Oliver Gold Rush in his final mount. Not only was his final moment in the saddle a 12 out of 10 ride, but it has been described by many as the best thing ever witnessed on a racecourse. It’s a big call, seeing we have just come through the Makybe Diva, Black Caviar, and Winx eras in Australia. However, the crowd noise that went through the TV when Munhamek hit the front was deafening. “GOLD GOLD, GOLD”, Damien, take a bow, and thank you!
2.Romantic Warrior - A Cox Plate For The Ages
Hong Kong-based Romantic Warrior won a stunning edition of the W.S. Cox Plate. The black and white streamers were scattered over the Moonee Valley crowd to celebrate Mr Brightside’s victory; however, on closer inspection of the photo finish, the highest internationally rated horse ever to compete on our shores claimed the prize, purse, and silverware. It was a perfectly timed ride by James McDonald, who claimed back-to-back victories in the feature event, and not even the jockey himself was confident he got the bob in. Alligator Blood starred destiny in the face for several strides, while Craig Williams railed like a greyhound on Mr Brightside, almost snatching a perfect and famous victory. When the two combatants locked horns in the shadows of the post, there wasn’t a person on course confident of the result. Fangirl never got a clear shot at the duelling pair, while Duias would have figured in the finish if a bigger gap had appeared. Not since the days of Saintly, Juggler, and Filante have we had a busier finish to the weight-for-age championships of Australasia.
3. Without A Fight - Historical Caulfield and Melbourne Cup Double
Without A Fight became the first horse since Ethereal in 2001 to complete the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups double. His win was tough and gritty at the heath, while his victory at headquarters on the first Tuesday in November was electric and mind-blowing. Despite the Irish raider Vauban being a heavily backed commodity in the race that stops a nation, Without A Fight showed a sizzling turn of foot and put his rivals to the sword well before the famous clock tower. Mark Zahra became the first jockey to win back-to-back Melbourne Cups since Harry White on Arwon in 1978 and Hyperno in 1979. It was also vindication for the spring star who jumped off last year’s winner Gold Trip to claim the $8,000,000 feature and his place in record books.
4.Think About It - The Rise Of An Everest Champion
The Joseph Pride trained Think About It climbed the biggest mountain to claim the $20,000,000 Everest. The son of So You Think recorded his 11th win from 12 starts in the process, and despite plenty of critics regarding his form, he showed why he is one of the world’s premier sprinters. The winning machine has gone from a Benchmark victory to securing the richest race on turf in less than 12 months, and an overseas tilt now looks ominous and almost a right of passage. The Peter Moody trained I Wish I Win challenged late, while Think About It’s stable mate Private Eye ran a courageous third after being trapped three-wide with no cover throughout. It was the most exciting finish in the short history of what looks destined to become our national race.
5.Anamoe - George Ryder Stakes
In one of the most resilient victories of 2023, Anamoe showed his champion qualities and refused to lay down in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes. He covered more ground than the early settlers throughout, and the punters that took the skinny odds would have needed a stiff drink approaching the 600m. He somehow got the better of Fangirl in the shadows, and the Godolphin superstar recorded his 9th Group 1 success. This win would turn out to be the last victory of his stunning career, and it catapulted him among the top active racehorses in the world. Anamoe, the 2022-2023 Horse Of The Year, leaves a big void to fill and an incredible legacy, and he now can be mentioned in the upper echelon of our past champions of the turf.