Whether it’s mighty mare Winx with her seemingly endless winning streak or 1992 Melbourne Cup hero Subzero – now a long-serving racing ambassador – some horses make a bigger mark on the public consciousness than others.
Everyone loves a winner, so Winx, like Black Caviar before her, has captured the hearts of racegoers and once-a-year punters alike.
Her official Facebook page has nearly 30,000 followers, and her Twitter account has 9500.
Subzero, meanwhile, turned success on the turf into even more fame off the track. He and owner Graham Salisbury are long-time ambassadors for Racing Victoria’s community education program.
“Subzero is a legend of Victorian racing,” Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson said earlier in 2018.
Subzero has 5000 Facebook followers, the unbeaten and now-retired Black Caviar has more than 100,000. These are the kind of horses who become firm favourites with racing fans.
Here’s a few more to look out for this spring and summer.
Poor old Tom is actually famous for not winning as often as he should. The eight-year-old is a winner of more than $1.1 million but has only five wins for his 35 starts (he also has 11 second placings).
Website Racenet says Tom Melbourne is one of Australia’s most talked about horses.
“Tom Melbourne hasn’t won a race for more than 730 days but that hasn’t stopped him from paying his way,” it says.
Follow Tom on his (unofficial) Twitter account here.
— Tom Melbourne (@tommelbourne2) December 5, 2017
This two-year-old filly has only had one race start (unfortunately, finishing some way down the field).
But what makes her a potential fan favourite are her striking looks. She’s white (not grey), with a pink nose. Utzon’s mother, The Opera House, is the same colour and has produced several foals with the same distinctive colouring.
When Utzon started in her first race, Racing Victoria announced she would wear new gear for the first time – sunscreen.
Bryan (with a Y) is a six-year-old gelding who earns a place here mostly for his name – and a growing habit of featuring prominently in the finish of races at long odds.
Bryan is trained by Jarrod McLean at Warrnambool, in southern Victoria, and is a winner of seven races from 32 starts.
Who Shot Thebarman
Maybe it’s his name, maybe it’s his winning ways, but Who Shot Thebarman is another horse with a cult following.
New Zealand-bred and owned, he’s done most of his racing on this side of the Tasman. The champion stayer has been set for a fourth try at the Melbourne Cup in 2018.
The 10-year-old is named for one of his owner’s Aunt Julie.
“She would just yell out, ‘hey you kids, who shot the barman?’. That was her call for one us kids to grab her glass and go and fill it up,” Dan O’Leary told Fairfax Media in 2014.
“I didn’t want to call a good horse a name like that, but a lot of people have bought into it [the name].”
Last, but certainly not least, is Happy Clapper, who might be one to keep in mind for autumn.
Back in September, trainer Pat Webster said his “grand galloper” was having a break.
“I do think he will come back for the autumn,” Webster told Racenet.
“If there is one inkling of any issues or if he gives us any indication he has lost his zest for racing, then he will be retired.”
The Clapper has run second to the mighty Winx, and is the winner of two Group 1 races. Jockey Blake Shinn is another fan.
“I have watched this race for so many years growing up and to finally win it and on the people’s champ, The Clapper, is just amazing,’’ Shinn said after Happy Clapper’s win in the Doncaster Mile in April 2018.