Ad Taylor Marshall after his win on Nozomi at odds of $151, his one win from only eight rides at the track. (Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)

Flemington’s lesser-known stars

11 January 2024 Written by Trent Crebbin – Racing & Sports

Everyone is aware of the feats achieved by racing’s stars, both equine and human. It wouldn’t take the average racing fan long to guess that recently retired star jockey Damien Oliver holds the records for the most wins at Flemington.

In fact, Oliver’s 448 wins at Flemington is 133 wins clear of the second-ranked Craig Williams, and nearly double the third-highest ranked Greg Childs with 229, coming in over double Steven King (222), Darren Gauci (211) and Brett Prebble (205) as the others to crack the double ton.

It also wouldn’t be too difficult to guess that Lee Freedman holds the records for most winners trained at Flemington, or that Black Caviar has the equal most wins on the track with eight.

Many would also know the great mare holds the 1000m track record achieved in the 2013 Lightning Stakes, and that Makybe Diva holds the 2000m track record with her win in the 2003 Australian Cup.

What even the most dedicated racing aficionados may not know are some of the more obscure Flemington stats – like who is the jockey with a 50% strike rate on the hallowed turf? Or the jockey that has won punters an average of nearly 18-1 over their rides at Flemington? Which horse ties Black Caviar’s winning record? Who are the horses with over 40 starts at Flemington?

Former Perth-based jockey Alby Smith holds the current record for the best strike rate at Flemington, winning three times from just six rides. For context, Damien Oliver struck at around 14% over his 1207 rides at Flemington – better than any jockey in the top 10 for total wins. Obviously Smith’s is a very small sample size – just six rides – but to this day no one has managed to stay near 50%.

Given he rode mainly in the 70s and 80s, data about his rides at Flemington is very limited. He did have a good association with the consistently talented sprinter Coal Pak who won 21 races, including the 1986 Oakleigh Plate, for which Smith was unfortunately replaced by Harry White.

Speaking of jockeys, there is one who has made their limited rides at Flemington count.

Taylor Marshall, son of 1999 Melbourne Cup-winning jockey John Marshall, has had eight rides at Flemington for one winner, but if a punter had a liking for Marshall and backed him in every race at Flemington, they’d have done very well given the winner was $151 longshot Nozomi.

The former Victoria Derby placegetter won a 1400m benchmark 84 for Lee and Anthony Freedman in August 2017 to give Marshall an average return on investment of $18.88 over his eight Flemington rides.

Smith and Marshall may be virtually unknown for their Flemington feats, but people certainly remember the equine warriors to continually race at, and win at Flemington.

Crafty Cruiser raced an incredible 44 times at Flemington, winning on four occassions. (Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)

Holding the record for the most starts at Flemington is the remarkable Crafty Cruiser. Retired at the mandatory age of 13, the Bryce Stanaway-trained gelding ran an incredible 159 times, and was actually scratched at what would’ve been his 160th and final start at Geelong.

Flemington was clearly his preferred track to run at, clocking up 44 starts for 4 wins, including the Listed Roy Higgins Quality in 2015.

He doesn’t feature in the most total wins for a horse at Flemington and while Black Caviar’s eight wins were all of the highest quality, the unbeaten superstar shares this particular record with Leading Bounty, who also won eight races at Flemington.

The majority of his wins, over the late 1990s and early 2000s, were steeplechase wins – the highlight being back-to-back Grand National Steeplechase wins in 2000 and 2001 over 4700m, the first by a nose and the second by 6 lengths. What a spectacle jumps racing at Flemington would’ve been!