Efficient: When in doubt, bet on the grey

6 November 2023 Written by VRC

In 2007, Efficient became the first grey to win the Group 1 Melbourne Cup since Subzero in 1992, and the first horse since Phar Lap to win the Cup the year after winning the Group 1 Victoria Derby.

Efficient was bred in New Zealand and sired by one of the most successful stallions in Australasian racing history in Zabeel, from the famous Cambridge Stud. He went through the Premier Yearling Sale at Karaka and sold for NZD$220,000 to Graeme Rogerson, who purchased the horse on behalf of an ownership group that included leviathan owner Lloyd Williams. The horse was brought across the Tasman with some of Australia’s biggest races in mind.

After a modest debut outing, he strung together five wins in a row, which included the Group 2 AAMI Vase (2040m) before showing his enormous staying talent with an incredibly dominant win in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m).

Efficient (NZ) and Michael Rodd return to scale after winning the 2006 Victoria Derby. (Racing Photos)

After such a performance he was duly accepted to run in the Melbourne Cup of 2006, looking to become the first horse since Skipton in 1941, to win the Derby and back up and win the Cup on the Tuesday. However, connections erred on the side of caution and the horse was scratched on the morning of the race.

Efficient returned in the autumn for a light campaign of only two runs, including a credible fifth in a star-studded Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m), behind super filly Miss Finland, and others including Haradasun, Casino Prince and Kiwi star Joker’s Wild.

He then went unplaced in all four runs leading into the 2006 Melbourne Cup, but reunited with jockey Michael Rodd to take the honours in Australia’s greatest race. Settling in the second half of the field, Efficient came with a burst down the centre of the track, reeling in international runner Purple Moon to win by a half-length.

 “He’s a world-beater!” - Jockey Michael Rodd

He provided the highest win dividend for a Melbourne Cup winner in over 10 years, at $22.70, and provided owner Lloyd Williams with his third Cup success.

Efficient, ridden by Michael Rodd, goes past Purple Moon to win the 2007 Melbourne Cup. (Racing Photos)

He would miss the 2008 and 2009 Melbourne Cups due to injury; however, he added another Group 1 win to his record, taking out the 2009 Turnbull Stakes (2000m). He turned back the clock in 2012 running second in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m), again reuniting with Michael Rodd and was only narrowly beaten by Niwot. Rodd had such a great affinity with the grey gelding.

He retired one start later with seven wins from 29 starts, a winning strike rate of 24%, and over $4.7 million in prizemoney.

Affectionately known as ‘Fish’, he now resides happily at Living Legends and often visits Flemington on race days.

'Fish' and 2015 Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne on a leg of the 2021 Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour in Apollo Bay.


Grey Gelding

Foaled  23/08/2003 (Cambridge, New Zealand)

Sire  Zabeel (NZ)

Dam  Refused To Dance (NZ) (Defensive Play (USA))

Trainers  Graeme Rogerson, John Sadler & Robert Hickmott

Breeder  Bloodstock Resources Ltd & Cambridge Hunt Ltd

Owners  Mr & Mrs L J Williams, Messrs L Williams, G W Hunt, M A Sellars & A J Sellars



Total Starts




Total Prizemoney








WON 2007 Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m)

WON 2007 Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m)

WON 2009 Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m)

WON 2006 Group 2 Moonee Valley Vase (2040m)

2ND 2012 Group1 Sydney Cup (3200m)



2007-08 Champion Stayer

'Fish' with his long-time stablemate and best friend 'Zip', enjoying the sun at Living Legends.

Come and visit Efficient in the Horse Stalls on VRC National Jockeys Trust Race Day, where we acknowledge the amazing jockeys who bring every race to life with dedication, bravery and skill. Join us as we raise awareness and funds for the National Jockey Trust which provides a range of important support to ill or injured jockeys and their families. Tickets selling fast, don't miss out!