The super special story of Super Train

27 December 2022 Written by Michael Manley

Despite being by star stallion Sir Tristram, who sired 126 stakes winners and three Melbourne Cup winners, Super Train just didn’t quite make it on the track. However, he has lived a long and happy 30 years (and counting), 25 of those in the care of equine vet, Luke Campbell, and his family.

Melbourne equine veterinarian Luke Campbell practices what he preaches, as it doesn’t matter to him what the value of a horse is when it comes to looking after it.

For him the love of the horse, no matter its background, comes first. In his professional life Campbell has dealt with some of the best horses in the land during his time working with Team Williams at Macedon. Efficient, Zipping, Fawkner and Reset were the stars while he was there, so he has seen racing from the pointy end of success. That quartet all carried the blood of the immortal New Zealand stallion Sir Tristram, as they were all sired by his son Zabeel.

Campbell was also doing work for Mike Moroney when a son of Sir Tristram, Brew won the 2000 Melbourne Cup. All of those great gallopers spent time at Living Legends and three of them (Brew, 28, Fawkner, 15, and Efficient, 19) are still there.

Campbell and his wife Sarah have proudly looked after another horse from the same bloodlines: a horse called Super Train on the track, but simply known as James to them. Super Train is by Sir Tristram, who rewrote the record books as a stallion, siring 126 stakes winners and three Melbourne Cup winners.

Sir Tristram died in 1997 at the age of 25. Super Train was born in 1992 and would be one of Sir Tristram’s last surviving horses, as he only served small books of mares in his last few years at stud.

Super Train’s racetrack performances were a long way from securing him a pampered existence at Living Legends, but he’s managed to have his own idyllic lifestyle for 25 years. Campbell and Sarah adore Super Train, and regard him as part of their family.

In terms of racetrack ability, Super Train could be given a 200m head start by the aforementioned Living Legends horses and not be guaranteed to beat them.

“Although he’s not a candidate for Living Legends with his ability, he’s been looked after just as well,” Campbell said. “There are numerous horses like him out there being looked after in similar fashion and people don’t know their stories.”

That’s the reason why Campbell is pleased to tell the story about the great life Super Train has led.

Although Super Train was bred to run quickly being by Sir Tristram out of a Bletchingly mare called Most Illustrious, who was a half-sister to fast stakes winning horses in Hemisphere and Purpose, he simply couldn’t.

On the racetrack he was in the hands of trainer Ashley Anderson for the first seven starts of his racing career, with his best performance a seventh in a Balaklava Maiden. Super Train then had a stint with Lindsay Park-based trainer John Cornell, where his record improved slightly over six starts to include a fourth at Victoria Park and a third in a Jamestown Maiden.

At the time, Sarah was riding work at Lindsay Park and took a liking to the bay gelding. She ended up taking him home with her, in a fortuitous move for the racetrack slow coach.

“Sarah kept him when he was retired and we’ve had him ever since … something like 25 years. He’s been part of our family ever since,” Campbell said.

“He’s well looked after. He gets fed twice a day and he’s double rugged. We look after him to keep him going,” he said.

Campbell said Super Train couldn’t be in better shape for a 30-year-old horse, but there were signs of aging.

“He’s only got three teeth left in front. As a result, his feed has changed to twice a day with nice pellets and chaff, because his teeth are starting to fall out. He can’t get the energy he needs from grass, so he needs supplementary feed.

“He’s as healthy as could be for a 30-year-old. Looking at him as a physical specimen you wouldn’t think he’s 30. He’s got a good top line and a healthy coat because he’s always rugged. He’s looked after like a Cup favourite,” he said. “He gets good supplementary feeds and I keep him on a few supplements and vitamins to keep him in good health.”

“Beautiful horses, although not champions, are still looked after and cared for post racing career. The value of a horse doesn’t matter – it’s the love of the horse.”

Campbell said Super Train had been a trail riding horse for many years, but he hadn’t been ridden for a few years.

“We kept him as a riding horse, and he’d go up the mountain a few times. Now he’s a bit old and arthritic to do that. We just keep him happy,” he said. “He’s in a 30-acre paddock and in reality, he’s just a lawn mower up at Mt Macedon.”

Super Train shares a paddock with another ex-thoroughbred who goes by the paddock name of Paddy, and who also didn’t win a race according to Campbell.

“We don’t know Paddy’s racing name, but he’s also close to 30 and he’s also in great health. It’s a beautiful, picturesque paddock they are in and it’s two old pensioners having the run of the place,” Campbell said. Campbell still works in partnership with fellow veterinary surgeon John Walker, and the pair supervise all of the horses that come to Australia via IRT (International Racehorse Transport).

They also work for trainers including Nick Ryan, Peter and Paul Snowden, Charlotte Littlefield, Colin Scott and Gemma Rielly.

But back at home, Campbell is more than happy to be looking after James and Paddy.

“It’s important to get the message across that it’s not just the successful racehorses

that are retired to Living Legends who are looked after, but horses such as James, who despite not being able to live up to his bloodlines, has led a great life,” he said.

“Beautiful horses, although not champions, are still looked after and cared for post racing career. The value of a horse doesn’t matter – it’s the love of the horse.”

Statue of Sir Tristram standing proudly at Cambridge Stud in New Zealand. The world-renowned breeding farm has recently had a complete facelift, with brand new barns and equine breeding facilities.



Sired 45 individual Group 1 winners with a total of 72 Group 1 wins

GURNER’S LANE (NZ) 1982 Caulfield Cup, 1982 Melbourne Cup
EMPIRE ROSE (NZ) 1988 LKS Mackinnon Stakes, 1988 Melbourne Cup
MARAUDING (NZ) 1987 Golden Slipper
BREW (NZ) 2000 Melbourne Cup


Sired 46 Group 1 winners with a total of 87 Group 1 race wins

JEZABEEL (NZ) 1998 Auckland Cup, 1998 Melbourne Cup
OCTAGONAL (NZ) 1995 Sires’ Produce Stakes, 1995 WS Cox Plate, 1996 Canterbury Guineas, 1996 Rosehill Guineas, 1996 Mercedes Classic, 1996 AJC Australian Derby, 1996 Underwood Stakes, 1997 Chipping Norton Stakes, 1997 AustralianCup, 1997 Mercedes Classic, 
MIGHT AND POWER (NZ) 1997 Caulfield Cup, 1997 Melbourne Cup, 1998 Mercedes Classic, 1998 Queen Elizabeth Stakes, 1998 Doomben Cup, 1998 Yalumba Stakes, 1998 WS Cox Plate
SKY HEIGHTS (NZ) 1999 Rosehill Guineas, 1999 Australian Derby, 1999 Caulfield Cup, 2000 Yalumba Stakes
RAILINGS (AUS) 2005 The Metropolitan, 2005 Caulfield Cup
MALDIVIAN (NZ) 2007 Yalumba Stakes, 2008 WS Cox Plate, 2009 CF Orr Stakes
EFFICIENT (NZ) 2006 Victoria Derby, 2007 Melbourne Cup, 2009 Turnbull Stakes