Our somewhat serious, somewhat left-field look at some of this year's most impressive performers.
An absolute jet and a punter's dream. The bombproof on-pacer began 2017 with back-to-back seconds (beaten 0.1L and 0.2L) before winning his next six starts, which included the G1 Doomben 10,000, The Everest and the G1 Darley Classic. It'd be an easy game if there were more horses like this equine ATM 💰.
Kim Waugh's donkey
NSW trainer Kim Waugh has an orphan donkey foal and the youngster, who is a bit of a character, became one of racing's social media stars of the year. He seems pretty popular around Waugh's stable too.
Queensland's leading rider made this list last year as a 55-year-old and he's still dominating in the sunshine state at 56. Only Perth's William Pike has ridden more winners than the veteran this year!
Carrathool, a tiny village in the western Riverina of NSW, hosts one meeting a year and Wagga Wagga-based trainer Trevor Sutherland made it his own in 2017. Sutherland prepared every winner on the six-race card and if that wasn't impressive enough, one of those winners was a horse that was born with five legs! It might have been a non-TAB meeting on a dirt track but it was still an outstanding training achievement, which Sutherland described "as probably a once in a lifetime thing."
Brad (who collected $169k when Winx won the Cox Plate!)
It's unlikely too many racing fans will forget Winx's third Cox Plate win but the day was even more memorable for astute multi punter 'Brad'. Winx was the final leg of a series of multis and when the brilliant mare did what she always does, a relieved Brad pocketed $169,000! 👏
Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott
Awesome 2017 from this training duo and they are the only yard inside the country's top five (by total winners) that is striking at greater than 20 per cent for the calendar year. They showed up on the big stage, too, with the relatively new partnership preparing winners on all four days of the Flemington carnival. No other stable did that! 🔥
This American galloper is missing a left eye but he hasn't let his impaired vision slow him down. After winning his maiden at just his second start, Patch soon stepped up to the big stage and he produced a strong-closing effort to grab third in the US $1.5 million Belmont Stakes. Unsurprisingly he's become a bit of a cult figure in the states.
The hard-working 28-year-old went from little-known jockey to the winner of one of Australia's biggest races when he guided Boom Time to victory in the Caulfield Cup. It was Parish's first Group One win and led to opportunities aboard the same horse in both the Melbourne Cup and Japan Cup.
Punter Scott Dodge
Tasmanian punter Scott Dodge turned $100 into more than $15,000 when She Will Reign lobbed in the Golden Slipper but it was his excitement about winning that impressed us most. The 26-year-old had a pacemaker installed following a health scare a couple of years ago and he revealed that he recorded his highest ever heart rate (since the pacemaker was installed) of 194 beats per minute while cheering home his meaty collect. “It got my heart rate higher than bloody exercise or anything else so punting is quite good I think," Dodge told Punters.com.au earlier this year. Bloody oath it is, Scott!
Ride To Redemption's owners
The crew who own Port Macquarie-based gelding Ride To Redemption showed what ownership is all about after their charge won at Coffs Harbour February. The race was only a BM55 but they celebrated like it was a G1. Good on 'em!
The grey flash only won one race from eight starts but his stunning last-to-first triumph in the TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) was undoubtedly one of the best performances of 2017. Do yourself a favour and watch it another 20 or 30 times 👇.
The saying "back Kah, shout the bar" has become nearly as commonplace as "back Pike, drink what you like" and for good reason. Adelaide's number one jockey has ridden the fourth most winners in the country this year and of the top 10 riders, only William Pike (23.9%) has a better strike rate than Kah (23.2%).
Cranbourne-based gelding Rich Charm, who won five of his seven starts in 2017, is a ripper and his trainer Udyta Clarke AKA Mrs Clarke is too. The passionate 70-year-old is always entertaining in her post-race interviews and she's clearly doing all the right things with her talented stable star. Hopefully she keeps doing them because Rich Charm has been a serious money-spinner for punters.
The man they call the 'Wizard" nearly rode his way off this list in the Kingston Town Classic (poor Black Heart Bart) but we'll forgive him given his efforts for the rest of the year. Once again it was a case of "back Pike, drink what you like" in the west, with Perth's leading jockey riding 191 winners at a strike rate of 23.9 per cent. Stacks more than any other jockey in the country! 👇
Another utterly dominant year from the gun Victorian conditioner, who has trained more than 400 (418 by our count) winners across the country. To put that number into perspective, Sydney's leading trainer Chris Waller is second on the list with 271. We'd like him even more if we could work out which horse to back when he has multiple runners in the same race.
It obviously helps he gets to ride Winx but it really has been a super year from Sydney's leading jockey. In December he became the first Australian to be named the world's best jockey and his achievements included 16 G1 wins, a Cox Plate and a Japan Cup. She's apples! 👌🍎🍏
Nine starts, nine wins, six G1s and a Cox Plate that'll never be forgotten. What else needs to be said?!