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Taking stock of 2011 – remembering the stars we have lost

December 23, 2011

The 2011 racing year has arguably been one of the most memorable in recent memory.

The deeds of wonder mare Black Caviar have seen racing on the front page of daily newspapers around the nation outside of the Melbourne Cup carnival; a rare feat indeed and one achieved by one of the true greats of the turf.

Another highlight was the remarkably tight finish in the Melbourne Cup which attracted headlines right around the world, brightening the spotlight on Australian racing and our most international race.

But while we celebrated many triumphs and memorable moments in 2011, we also farewelled a number of racing’s favourites that had provided plenty of memorable moments during their own careers.

Some were shipped to stud overseas where an enviable life awaits them, while others, mainly geldings, were retired to paddocks.

But unfortunately for some, death arrived at their door well before their time.

At one point during the spring carnival, the spate of accidents suffered by high profile racehorses had Racing Victoria chief steward Terry Bailey openly questioning the circumstances of each horse’s death.

It reached a head when Golden Slipper winner Crystal Lily crashed to the turf in an early morning jumpout at Flemington; her death came as she prepared for the Manikato Stakes the following week, with her collapse ruling Glen Boss out of the carnival just as he was riding his way into a rich vein of form.

The demise of Crystal Lily, a filly that bravely chased home Black Caviar on two occasions, was a sad end for a Slipper winner which had genuinely progressed to become a true group 1 performer as an older horse.

In Sydney, however, it was the death of the courageous Hot Danish which sent shockwaves through racing fans in the state.

Despite being a Group 1 winner, Hot Danish was far from the most talented horse to step on to a Sydney race track, however she was the darling of racegoers in the harbour city, and arguably the most popular racehorse to run in Sydney since Sunline.

Her victories were met with cheers, her defeats preceded a long period of silence, and her popularity never wavered. Her courage, her will to win, her ability to overcome adversity, these are the traits admired in every racehorse by all racing fans, and Hot Danish had them in spades.

She will be sorely missed by the Sydney racing community.

BMW winner Cedarberg was another casualty, his death at the beginning of spring sparking a disturbing streak of serious injury and loss of life within the ranks of the nations best performers.

Another sad loss was that of Tasmanian warhorse Conquering, while Group 1 placegetters Gold Salute and Warm Love, Wangoom Handicap winner Uxorious and promising three year old Delago’s Lad all passed away before their time.

The year also saw a number of our top horses head to stud.

The most high profile of these was Melbourne Cup and Australian Cup winner Shocking, who found a home at Rich Hill Stud in New Zealand.

He was joined at stud by Australian Derby winner Roman Emperor, 2010 Blue Diamond Stakes and Coolmore Stud Stakes winner Star Witness, 2009 Blue Diamond Stakes winner Reward for Effort, Galaxy winner Shellscrape and Epsom Handicap winner Captain Sonador. Caulfield Guineas Anacheeva was also retired during the spring and will serve his first season at stud next year.

As for the mares, multiple Group 1 winner Typhoon Tracy spent her first season at stud, as did Coolmore Classic winner and July Cup placegetter Alverta, All Aged Stakes winner Melito and Randwick track record holder De Lightning Ridge.

And for other stars, 2011 marked the end of the road as far as their careers on the track.

The gallant Zipping, competitive at the highest levels for so long, was ruled out of the spring just before entries were taken for the big races. Owner Lloyd Williams said the decision to retire the gelding was easy to make because Zipping had been such a loyal stable stalwart for so long.

Caulfield Cup winner Master O’Reilly was also retired after a lacklustre spring, as was Caulfield Cup placegetter Vigor.

Other high profile retirees were Makybe Diva Stakes winner Littorio and Melbourne Cup runner up Bauer.

While a new crop of potential stars emerges each year in search of group 1 glory, it is timely to recount the performances of those stars that are lost from the track as well.

They may have left the race track but their contribution is never forgotten in the minds of the grateful punters and their lucky connections.

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