Vale Nick Moraitis

30 June 2022 Written by Patrick Bartley

Nick Moraitis, the colourful owner of one of the greatest racehorses Australia has ever produced, Might And Power, has passed away, aged 87.

Moraitis’ son Paul announced to the Australian media that his father, one of Sydney’s most powerful businessmen and racehorse owners, had succumbed to liver cancer.

Diagnosed with the disease in early May, Moraitis junior said that he was pleased that his father did not have to endure a long and painful illness.

“I lost my mother 43 years ago when I was just 12 and tears are always there. And now I have lost my father”.

Apart from owning a Caulfield and Melbourne Cup as well as a Cox Plate, Moraitis was well known in sport in Sydney.

As a youngster he sold fruit and vegetables by day, and late each afternoon would compete in rugby league.

Moraitis was also known for his refereeing, which he performed after his playing days.

He also had a fruit and vegetable business that blossomed to be one of the most powerful food outlets in Australia, supplying national restaurant chains and retail supermarkets. Moraitis had become an indelible identity in Sydney business.

But it was horse racing and his family that were his first loves.

He raced many horses including the outstanding Exceed And Excel, Fiumicino, Vision And Power, Love Conquers All, Arabian Gold and Destiny’s Kiss.

1997 Melbourne Cup - Might And Power holds off a late surge from 1995 winner Doriemus. (Andrew Rosenfeldt/VRC collection)

But it was Hall of Famer Might And Power that changed Moraitis’ life,dramatically, when the horse came onto the scene winning the 1997 Caulfield Cup in remarkable fashion.

A seven-length victory had the racing world stunned. At one point, leading by up to 12 lengths, Might And Power continued to put away some of Australia’s best 2400-metre horses.

Might And Power then won the Melbourne Cup the same year in a close finish, fighting back to win by a slender margin.

He then collected a Cox Plate in 1998, in a career that stamped him not only as a wonderful racehorse but the toughest on-pace galloper we had seen in decades.

Moraitis’ enthusiasm was legendary, especially after the Melbourne Cup win when his embraces of jockey Jim Cassidy and quietly spoken trainer Jack Denham in the mounting yard were jubilant scenes. And, following the horse’s gritty Cox Plate win, Moraitis ran on to the track hugging and high-fiving fans of the horse.

The night of the Melbourne Cup win, Moraitis spoke to a group of pressmen in a bid to convey what it meant to him.

“I’m a grocer from Sydney and I am now taking home the Melbourne Cup. Yes, the Melbourne Cup, the race I’ve been listening to for years, and to think it’s mine now.

“You have no idea the joy and pride that this horse gives me,” he said.

Owner Nick Moraitis leading Might And Power and jockey Jim Cassidy after winning 1997 Melbourne Cup. (David Caird/Newspix)

In recent years, Moraitis had scaled down his long string of racehorses that he raced in Melbourne and Sydney.

When Might And Power died from colic in 2020, Moraitis was devastated. He told the media, “He has left us with a lot of great memories. I thank God every day for having Might And Power in my life”.

Might And Power’s record is indeed stunning. He raced 33 times for 15 wins and earned $5.2 million in prizemoney – which was an Australian record at the time. His record book included wins in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (by 10½ lengths), a Doomben Cup, Tancred Stakes and Caulfield Stakes.

While Moraitis’ business was extremely successful on a national scale, he only ever wanted to be known as the owner of Might And Power, “the people’s horse”.

Did You Know?

Might And Power is only the second racehorse in the history of racing to win the Caulfield Cup, Melbourne Cup and Cox Plate. Only Rising Fast (1954) has also won those three races. He was also the first horse to lead all the way in the Melbourne Cup, and win.