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Melbourne Cup-winning owner passes away

23 January 2023 Written by VRC

The Victoria Racing Club is saddened to learn of the passing of Melbourne Cup-winning owner David Hains who passed away aged 92.

VRC Chairman Neil Wilson paid tribute to Hains, a highly respected Victorian owner and breeder.

“David Hains’ passion and commitment to racing and breeding produced the fastest Melbourne Cup winner we have ever seen in Kingston Rule and many other champions including Kingston Town and Rose of Kingston,” Mr Wilson said.

“Racing is better off due to the significant contribution by David and the VRC sends its condolences to David’s family and friends.”

A revered and fearless businessman who proved an enormous success as a money market trader and entrepreneur, Hains was equally successful at the track. And in a round about way, he can thank a passion for golf for bringing some of his greatest success.

It was a friendship with known golf identity Norman von Nida who recommended to Hains he purchase two mares to breed in Australia, namely Ursula Lauderdale and Ada Hunter. Both were Italian bred and both would jettison Hains onto the front and back pages of the papers through the late 1970s, 1980s and into the mid 90s.

Ursula Lauderdale would produce Lowan Star, a dual Oaks winner, and Ada Hunter would become responsible for one of the best racehorses this country has ever seen, Kingston Town. But on reflection, this was just the start of it. Another mare purchased back in the early 1970s, namely Kingston Rose (by Better Boy), would also play a key role in delivering Hains great success.

Blue Diamonds, Oaks, Derbies, Cups – you name it, the familiar colours of yellow and red striped sleeves and cap were omnipresent when it came to feature races in this country.

But in terms of the VRC and Flemington, the crowning glory would be in the 1990 Melbourne Cup when the impeccably bred entire Kingston Rule saluted in the record time of 3:16.3. A time which is yet to be bettered.

When winning the Melbourne Cup, Hains was quoted as saying, “Having had the sun and moon with Kingston Town, we never expected the stars,” when referring to Kingston Rule.

It was an important win for several key players. It was Bart Cummings’ first Cup victory coming out of the stock market crash of the late 80s. It was the first of two Cup victories for Hall of Fame jockey Darren Beadman and for David and Helen Hains, it was vindication of one of the most ambitious breeding assignments this country had ever seen.

In the late 1980s, Hains sent a plane load of blue-chip mares across to Lexington, Kentucky to be mated with the best bloodlines in the world. Some to northern hemisphere time and some to the southern hemisphere. While success was modest, breeding the 1991 Two Thousand Guineas winner, Mystiko, along with other lesser known performers, Kingston Rule’s record-breaking Melbourne Cup victory was a crowning achievement for the Hains family.

1990 Melbourne Cup Winner, Kingston Rule.

For the record, the 1981 VRC Oaks winner and 1981-82 Australian Horse of the Year, Rose of Kingston, would be mated (northern hemisphere time) with the record-breaking Secretariat, the 1973 US Triple Crown winner. The resultant progeny was Kingston Rule who would make his way to France to be trained by Patrick Biancone before heading to the stables of Tommy ‘T.J’ Smith in Sydney enroute to the stables of Bart Cummings. ‘T.J’ was quick to recommend gelding the son of Secretariat which didn’t fit well with David Hains. By the time he came to Flemington to embark on a Cups campaign he was finding his way into the ‘too hard basket’ before Cummings weaved his magic.

“He was a beautiful horse,” explained long-time Flemington track rider Joe Agresta.  “He wouldn’t walk with other horses. We got him to relax and gain confidence and the rest is history.”

The 1990 Melbourne Cup victory was extra sweet for the Hains Family as they had gone perilously close in 1982 when Kingston Town was narrowly beaten by Gurner’s Lane. The family would also race Chiamare who would start favourite the following year only to run sixth and would see Kingston Town finish 20th of 22 when a 13/2 third favourite back in 1981. 

As breeders, David and Helen Hains, along with their daughter Cathy, established the Kingston Park Stud in Merricks on the Mornington Peninsula. Here they would stand stallions and breed commercially for many years before Cathy established Burnewang North Pastoral on 2,400 acres near Rochester, Victoria. Among his successes, David Hains can also take credit for introducing the Danish mare Love Song to Australian shores. Love Song would eventually prove to be the fourth dam of arguably Australia’s greatest ever sprinter, Black Caviar. 

Hains enjoyed success with legendary trainers Bart Cummings, Lee Freedman, Tommy Smith, Bob Hoysted and Angus Armanasco – all Racing Hall of Famers in their own right. And they engaged jockeys the ilk of Malcolm Johnston, Roy Higgins, Gary Willetts, Greg Childs, Greg Hall, Steven King, Darren Beadman, Peter Cook and Ron Quinton.

Racing has lost one of the big names of the sport with the recent passing of David Hains. He was a humble owner in a sport not short on sizeable egos. By today’s standards, he didn’t race large numbers but what he did race was all quality. In most cases the ownership was only with his wife. He would be classified as a boutique owner-breeder who realised very early on in racing, it’s not necessarily the quantity of the stock you are handling but more so the quality.  David Hains had five children; Cathy, Stephen, Richard, Michael and Paul.  His wife Helen passed away in 2017.

Image caption: 1990_Cup_FIN: 1990 Melbourne Cup winner, Kingston Rule. Bred and raced by David and Helen Hains