Best Horse Winners In NZ

New Zealand has a long and illustrious career when it comes to horse racing. A number of New Zealand bred horses have become world famous over the years, proving themselves not only on the race track but in the stud book too. Some of the most famous winners in NZ have even been preserved so that their legacy can continue for generations, allowing new blood to marvel at the past heroes. The best horse winners in NZ come from all sorts of bloodlines and areas, although many of them have an ancestor or two in common.


Ethereal is a plain bay mare bred in 1997 by New Zealand breeders Peter and Phillip Veda. She currently stands at stud in New Zealand, and has so far bred one group one racing filly by Giant’s Causeway. Ethereal herself is the winner of four group one races, amongst a slew of lesser races, including the Caulfield Cup, the Melbourne Cup, and the BMW Stakes. She was crowned champion stayer of the year in 2001, and almost horse of the year but just lost out to the super Australian mare Sunline. Ethereal is by the super sire Rhythm who in turn is by Mr Prospector who has sired a number of winning prodigy’s. Her dam sire, Sir Tristram was also a winning thoroughbred. These days it’s easy to find out when one of this mares offspring is running, and NZ betting sites always offer great odds on popular races.


Bonecrusher was a rather obnoxious chestnut that won the nickname Big Red, which had been previously shared by champions such as Phar Lap, Secretariat and Man O War. Bonecrusher raced well into his later years, campaigning in New Zealand during his seven year old season, incredibly still winning races against younger horses.

The height of his career was in the mid 1980’s when he won four Group One races in New Zealand, including the New Zealand Derby, and six Group One races in Australia, including the AJC Derby, the Tancred Stakes, the Cox Plate, and the Australian Cup. He was named horse of the year in both New Zealand and Australia being the first horse in history to be awarded both titles. He went on to an international campaign but contracted a virus in Tokyo that almost cost him his life. Amazingly he came back from that and carried on racing, and winning.

Phar Lap

No list of best horse winners in NZ would be complete without a mention of one of the greatest thoroughbred race horses of all time, Phar Lap. Phar Lap was a gangly chestnut colt who massively disappointed his owners when they first laid eyes on him. He was so funny looking with such an awkward gait that his owners actually refused to have him trained, and he ended up being trained for free by the trainer who was responsible for purchasing him on the yearling sales.

Phar Lap was gelded at an early age in an attempt to get him to concentrate on running, and action that his owners bitterly regretted in years to come. In total, Phar Lap won 37 of his 51 starts, beating horses such as the Australian favourite Night March. So good was he, that attempts were made on his life, including a shooting which luckily missed on the day of the Melbourne Cup.

He was eventually shipped over to the US where he was assassinated by the Mob. His hide and heart are preserved today at the Melbourne Museum and the Wellington Museum. He is a national emblem of both New Zealand and Australia with roads, postage stamps and suburbs named after him.