Subzero and Graham Salisbury honoured at Flemington

6 October 2023 Written by VRC

The legacy of industry ambassador Graham Salisbury and his best mate, 1992 Melbourne Cup winner Subzero, will forever be remembered at Flemington Racecourse with the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) officially unveiling of the Salisbury Subzero Memorial Rose Garden today.

Located opposite Stall 1 in the pre-parade ring, the rose garden features specially bred 'Subzero’ white roses and a plaque paying tribute to the pair’s tireless work in the community. Graham and Subbie’s ashes have also been laid underneath the plaque, ensuring they are permanently linked to Flemington and the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

On the track, Subzero was a standout of his generation, winning the South Australian Derby and Adelaide Cup as a three-year-old before going on to claim racing’s greatest prize, the Melbourne Cup in 1992.

Trained by Lee Freedman and partnered in most of his races by champion jockey and Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour Ambassador Greg Hall, the handsome grey gelding was unmissable on the track and quickly became Australia’s most famous grey in his second career as a Clerk of the Course horse.  

It was as a Clerk of the Course horse at tracks including Flemington that he formed his strongest bond with his rider, Graham Salisbury. Upon retiring from that career in 2008 the pair went on to devote themselves to charity work, brightening the lives of everyone from school children to hospital patients and nursing home residents.  

Affectionately known as ‘Subbie’, the gelding participated in many other events including the Lexus Melbourne Cup Parade and Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour, where Graham and Subzero were always the stars of the show.  

After a long battle with cancer Graham passed away in 2020 at the age of 76, and Subzero passed away just two months later aged 32. Graham’s wife Anita and daughter Nicole were part of the official proceedings at Flemington today to unveil the memorial rose garden.  

VRC Chairman Neil Wilson welcomed members of the Salisbury family to Flemington to commemorate the occasion.

“The new Salisbury Subzero Memorial Rose Garden now sits near the Flemington race day stalls,” Mr Wilson said.

“Subbie and Graham will always be a part of the Flemington stories and their contribution to the racing industry will be forever remembered. Their memory will live on through the hundreds of stories and the people they touched over the decades.” - Neil Wilson

The rose garden and plaque are the latest in a series of VRC tributes to the pair.  

Earlier this year, the Subzero Arena at Pakenham was unveiled. The Subzero Arena has been created as a collaboration between the VRC and Riding for the Disabled Association Pakenham, with the VRC donating the special synthetic surface material that has been re-purposed from the Flemington training track plus nearly $60,000 from the VRC Equine Wellbeing Fund. The new arena provides the perfect riding surface for every weather condition and ensures that the riders at RDA Pakenham can always enjoy the therapeutic benefits from their association with horses. 

A QR code linking to a dedicated website will be displayed on the plaque for future racegoers to learn about the legacy of Graham and Subbie and can be viewed here.

The VRC will continue to acknowledge Subzero with the running of the Subzero Handicap restricted to grey horses on the biggest day of the racing calendar in Australia, Lexus Melbourne Cup Day.