~ MAKYBE DIVA ~
Is she the greatest ?
There has been much debate about how she ranks
alongside Phar Lap (in Australia) and the likes of Sea
Biscuit, Najinsky and others overseas. Particularly in Australia, there have been some extraordinary horses -
Octagonal, Kingston Town, Northerly - all named horses of the year, and many many others - Chiquita, Sunline - the list goes
on and on. The gallant and huge mare Empire Rose who won the Cup - a New Zealand born and bred mare. She
was so big that racing organisers had to have a special barrier made for her to start from.
Makybe Diva is not that size. She was
bred in Ireland, born in England, and was imported to Australia on 29th February 2002 and has resided and still does,
in Victoria. The rest is history.
The beauty of all this is the fact that in this
troubled world, a horse - a mare to be precise, can cause such excitement, enthusiasm and accolades of the kind we have never
seen before. As the trainer put it " Go and find the smallest child on this course because they will be the
only person here that will live long enough to see something like this again - we won't live long enough to see it again "
..... such has been her performance.
And the beauty too is that again in this
troubled world, every year on the first Tuesday in November, an entire nation can come to a standstill to watch the
running of the Melbourne Cup - the greatest and highest stakes Group 1 and longest staying handicap race in the world.
The State of Victoria has a holiday to celebrate it, ( which has turned into a 4 day weekend for many who include the Monday
in with it !! ), and it is broadcast to 800 million viewers around the world.
The excitement is palpable. The
lead up is awesome. There is a grand parade the Friday before the great day - through the streets of Melbourne
- with jockeys, trainers, and winners of the Melbourne Cup from past years walking through the cheering throngs.
The colour is wonderful - tickertape and confetti rain down. Somehow the horses always behave themselves in that
noise and bustle, as they seem to know they are there to celebrate their own victories, and to be in something big.
There are Cup day breakfasts - big time events, and pre-Cup balls, dinners and special events. I could go on and on
but will leave that at that.
A little about the Diva herself.
Her stable name is Esme ! Why ? In an Australian produced and very long running soapie called " Neighbours
" - (England would know all about that) - there is a character named Esme who is the neighbourhood sticky beak,
is so inquisitive that she finds out everyone else's business. Makybe Diva is a sticky beak - she absolutely
must know what's going on, and investigates every little thing. And does she know she's the Diva -
she is a camera junkie. Loves to pose, knows how to put on the best look - ears forward, head held high.
She is one character of a horse. But then many greats have been that way. Dear old Gunsynd,
from Gundawindi in Queensland was a great horse, but refused to go into the starting barriers unless he had had his fill of
posing for cameras, and he'd nod continually to the crowd as he cantered past them to the starting gates, stopping here
and there to soak up the atmosphere - and the camera clicks and do a bit more nodding.
Makybe Diva started off her career showing little
of the greatness she would ultimately achieve. As a 3 year old she won a few - had some placings, and was beaten outright
on a few occasions. She won the Wangaratta Maiden (not a high class race !) in August 2002.
Then she started - and these are the highlights
* Won five in a row culminating in the
listed Werribee Cup and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Flemington. (Victoria, where the Melbourne Cup is run)
* Won the 2003 Melbourne Cup.
* Won the 2004
Then went to a new trainer
- Lee Freedman. * Was 2nd in the Caulfield Cup
2004 (this too is a huge race inthe Spring Carnival)
* Won the 2004 Melbourne Cup.
Crowned Australian Horse of the Year for 2004-05.
Won the Australian Cup 2005 - at Flemington
* Won the BMW Stakes at Rosehill (in Sydney) - a high stakes winning
* Won the W.S. Cox Plate at Moonee Valley (Melbourne) .... the richest weight for age race in the world.
Won the 2005 Melbourne Cup. She carried a huge weight and it was thought she couldn't do it with that
weight (58 kgs, or
just on 9 stone)
Her prize money is $14,526,685.
On a bitter sweet note, Makybe Diva wore the
bridle of Mummify, another high stakes winner and grand horse who just the previous week had to be put to
sleep as he had broken down badly in a track training accident. His trainer Lee Freedman
was devastated at his loss.
At the end of the Melbourne Cup last week, her
owner with tears in his eyes, announced that she will never race again - she has been retired to take up stud duties,
and have the wonderful life of a brood mare, in open paddocks, with the world as it should be for happy horses.
It was a beautiful moment - and the huge crowd
(106,000+) cheered and most likely wept with joy. It was SO the right thing to do.
Much speculation has been had about what a foal
of hers would bring. There are figures bandied about of between $4 and $6 million.
There is a State Reception to be held in her
honour in Federation Square in Melbourne in the near future.
I, and a million others could write books and
books about her, and no doubt some will. I am hoping they bring out a DVD of her runs and achievements. And there sure would
be enough photo's of her to fill several of them.
The joy that this brave, extraordinary (and
inquisitive) mare has brought to millions is to be marvelled at. In today's world, that is just too wonderful.