The term champion is thrown around too often these days, however there is no doubting the title when referring to Saintly - the horse from Heaven.
The champion racehorse, winner of the 1996 Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup double, died on the morning of Friday 16th December aged 24.
When looking back on Saintly’s racing career it’s clear as to why he was a favourite amongst the racing fraternity.
From 23 starts, he claimed 10 wins and 11 placings, before injury cruelly cut short a stellar career.
Trainer and part-owner Bart Cummings shared a special bond with Saintly, having trained his father, mother and grandmother.
According to those close to the Cummings stable, the master trainer kept a close eye on Saintly from the age of two months as he knew the horse was going to be special.
Of course Cummings was right and his patience in the horse was handsomely rewarded in 1996 when the chestnut gelding became just the fourth horse after Nightmarch (1929), Phar Lap (1930), and Rising Fast (1954) to win the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup in the same year.
The Melbourne Cup victory was a comfortable three length win that handed Cummings his 10th Melbourne Cup.
The Cox Plate success was arguably more stunning and memorable, with jockey Darren Beadman leading Saintly on the outside to run down three horses on the post and beat favourite Filante by a nose.
For Beadman, a devout Christian, riding ‘the horse from Heaven’ to success was just meant to be, especially as Beadman chose to ride Saintly instead of arch rival and 1995 Cox Plate champion Octagonal.
For Cummings, Saintly’s win was extra special, so much so that it brought a tear to his eye. Never one to show too much emotion he quipped “must be hay fever”.
Saintly’s stunning spring earned him the title of 1997 Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year.
Known as ‘the horse from Heaven’ for obvious reasons, Saintly was a champion in every sense of the word, thrilling crowds and gaining acclaim wherever he went.