Top Australian Racehorse Owners and Breeders in History

| March 26, 2020
Owners and breeders in Australia
Who are Australia’s greatest owners and breeders

Owning a horse racehorse in some parts of Australia is like owning a casino. You know people are going to like a horse and bet on it. A few might win, but the biggest winners are those who own the horses.

Against that backdrop, over 80,000 people in Australia spend thousands of dollars each year to be part-owners of top racehorses. Someone could spend $10,000 for a 10% share of a $100,000 horse that might win a race one day.

Wealthy Australians, obviously don’t own shares. They buy yearlings—one-year-old horses—especially those being bred to become racers. Others own breeding stables in the hopes that one or two of their horses will ever win a major tournament.

In this article, we’ll outline ten of the most famous Australian horse race owners and what they did or are doing for the industry. 

#1: Sylvester John Browne

Born in 1841, John Browne rose to fame in the 1880s after he purchased the South Morphettville Racecourse. He then purchased four yearlings but had little success and halted breeding in 1891. 

Despite that, he continued to own a racecourse and support the industry financially. Besides horse racing, Browne was a mining magnate who owned a mining company worth £480,000 at one time.

#2: Sean Buckley

Buckley is an investor who owns Ultra Tune, a roadside car serving business and the Ultra thoroughbred racing. He rose to fame in 2014 after purchasing a champion horse valued at $600,000. 

He also purchased a yearling brother to one of the most successful racehorses of this decade: Savvy Nature. Born in 2010, the horse has won close to $3 million in prize money from tournaments.

#3: Lloyd Williams

Lloyd is one of the most famous horse racing personalities in Australia and not just because he’s a thoroughbred horse owner. He’s also a gambler, and one of the most successful ones for that matter.

Lloyd Williams, who owns a stable outside Melbourne, has won the Melbourne Cup a record six times. He first won it in 1985, won it again in 2007, 2012, 2016 and then in 2017. 

Williams is also one of the richest men in Australia with a net worth of nearly $700 million. He earned his fortune from thoroughbred races, owning the Crown Casino and his shares from Publishing and Broadcasting Limited.

#4: Bart Cummings

Known as the Cups King, Bart Cumming won the Melbourne Cup a record twelve times as a trainer. For clarity, Williams won it a record six times as a thoroughbred owner.

Cummings began his career as a trainer in 1953 with a stable in South Australia. He recorded his first major win in 1958 by taking home the South Australian Derby Win. In all fairness, though, he had 89 runners in that tournament. 

In 1965, Cummings fielded five horses in that year’s Melbourne Cup. Two of his horses ranked first and second while the third horse finished eight. Later in the year and in 1966, he won six more horse racing cups.

Cummings legendary horse racing status culminated with a win at the 2008 Melbourne Cup. To spice up his record, it was also the 50th anniversary of his 1958 victory. In total, he won 268 Group 1 victories, 12 Melbourne Cups and over 776 stake wins.

#5: Etienne L. De Mestre

Etienne de Mestre is considered as one of the most iconic horse racing personalities of the 19th century. It’s easy to see why. For starters, he was a trainer with five Melbourne Cup wins over 18 years.

Etienne also trained his horses, and due to that, he held the record for most Melbourne Cup Wins by a trainer until Cummings came along. It’s for that reasons that many also call him the Bart Cummings of the 19th century.

Apart from the Melbourne Cup, Etienne also had notable successes with other tournaments. Despite that, De Mestre encountered a handful of challenges like getting disqualified from the 1863 tournament due to a technicality. 

#6: Bob Ingham

Ingham built a billion-dollar empire through poultry farming but he’s also famous for co-founding the largest horse racing thoroughbred in Australia. He credits his love for horse race breeding from his father—the man from whom he inherited his poultry business.

Thanks to his father, again, Ingham and his brother got the first mare that would help build a $250 million thoroughbred empire. The pair’s most successful horse was the 1996 horse of the year. 

#7: John Messara

Many Australians know Messara as the former chairman of the Racing New South Wales. He also served as the deputy chairman of the Australian Racing Board between 2014 and 2016. 

When it comes to owning racing horses, Messara is the proud owner and breeder of over 70 Group 1 winners. He’s won several awards for his contributions to the race horsing industry, including becoming enlisted as a Member of the Order of Australia.

#8: Gai Waterhouse

Gai is one of the most famous female thoroughbred horse race owners. She’s a businesswoman and the daughter of famous thoroughbred horse breeder Tommy Smith. That’s doesn’t mean she didn’t work for her success, though.

Quite the contrary, Gai has managed her father’s Tulloch Lodge Stable since 1994. Better yet, she’s fielded 135 Group 1 winners, won several Sydney racing championships and the 2013 Melbourne Cup. For the latter, she’s only the third Australian female breeder to have won it.

#9: Tommy Smith

Born in 1998, Smith is the godfather of the Sydney Trainer’s Premiership, having won it every year from 1953 to 1985. He also won two Melbourne Cups and 35 Australian derbies. Smith, as mentioned, is also the father of Gai Waterhouse, the so-called first lady of horse racing. 

#10: Dick Roden

Roden was one of Australia’s youngest Melbourne Cup winners. He won the competition in 1958, a year in which he also won the Brisbane Handicap and the Metropolitan Handicap with the same horse. He trained dozens of race winners throughout his career, mostly regional tournaments.

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