|W.S. Cox Plate wins
Known as the horse from heaven and bred and part-owned by legendary hall of fame trainer Bart Cummings, Saintly was one of the horses of a lifetime and a true favourite of ‘The Cups King’!
Saintly was to come of age in the spring of 1996 and show his dominance firstly in the Cox Plate. A star-studded field was assembled, with the likes of Filante, Juggler and of course the big “O”, Octagonal, returning as the defending Cox Plate champion having won the race as a 3YO in 1995. Saintly and Octagonal fought out many enthralling duels in the Sydney 3YO classics in the autumn and Octagonal seemed to have the upper hand on the imposing chestnut gelding who had only placed at Group 1 level, but was knocking on the door for his first win.
One thing was certain; the 76th running of the Cox Plate would live up to everyone’s expectations.
In a small field of eight runners, the pace was on early as is usually the case in ‘The Race Where Legends Are Made’. Coming to the famous “school” at the 600-metre mark, many good judges claim this is the place where you can win or lose the race. The leaders in All Our Mob, Filante and Juggler were on the move, and Saintly was taking a while to get his huge frame moving. At the 400 metre mark, they were four across the track, ensuring the finish would be a thriller, although surprisingly they had dropped Octagonal who could not keep up.
Coming to the turn Saintly ran off the tight Valley turn and appeared to lose all momentum as Filante, Juggler and All Our Mob straightened for the post, looking the likely winners. With 100 metres to go under the graceful vigour of Darren Beadman the big chestnut began to respond, and the crowd started to roar. Saintly surged towards the leading three to again make a line of four. At the finish little more than half a length separated them all in what was one of the closest and most dramatic finishes in the history of the legendary race. This time Saintly prevailed, edging out Filante who tried his heart out with that familiar gusto from the legendary jockey Mick Dittman, with All Our Mob running a game third with Simon Marshall doing all but lift him over the line.
While his performance in the Cox Plate was phenomenal, it was what he did post the race that made him a household name, with an arrogant win in the Melbourne Cup a fortnight later. So good was the performance in the Cup that Bart then travelled Saintly to Japan for the Japan Cup. Unfortunately, he didn’t race in Japan due to a serious illness, and he returned to Australia not being able to showcase his talents to the world.
The greatness of this horse was never realised when he returned in the autumn of 1997 to win the Group 1 C.F Orr Stakes first-up at Caulfield over 1400m, with the Australian Cup seemingly at his mercy until a tendon injury ended his career shortly after.
He retired to Living Legends until 2009 and was then moved to Cummings’ property at Hawkesbury NSW, until his passing in December 2016. Such was the love of Saintly from his legendary trainer, and Cummings named his Flemington stables after him “Saintly Place”.