The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
The Melbourne Cup attracts the best horses from around the world and with them, some of the most famous horse owners both in Australia and internationally. Whether they made horse racing their career or a hobby to indulge in, it is clear that all horse owners have a passion for the racing industry and all aim for the coveted Melbourne Cup. Here is a list of some of the most prominent horse owners to have graced the Melbourne Cup.
Born on the 17th of October, 1952 in Croatia, Tony Santic is one of thoroughbred racing’s most prominent horse owners after his legendary wins with standout mare Makybe Diva. From small beginnings as a twenty year old fisherman, Santic grew his business to become Tony’s Tuna in 1994, the leading sashimi tuna exporter to Japan.
His passion for racing began with a bit of greyhound racing and then in 1998 Santic got serious when he purchased his first racehorse. From there he continuously went to the yearling sales and has now owned over 350 horses. Makybe Diva’s story starts with a trip made by Santic to the UK to inspect a broodmare by the name of Tugela. The mare was in foal to Desert King at the time and so both Tugela and her foal were shipped to Australia.
After failing to reach a reasonable price at the yearling sales, the foal was kept by Santic who asked five girls working at Tony’s Tuna to come up with a name for the filly. Maureen, Kylie, Belinda, Dianna and Vanessa came up with Makybe Diva, the first two letters from each of their names combined. Little did Santic know that it would be this horse that cemented his name in history with her 3 consecutive Melbourne Cup wins.
Tony Santic loves horse racing and is said to value his local race horses as much as his international superstars. He has recently purchased a 3200 acre property in Geelong, Victoria which will serve as the “Makybe” breeding operation.
Lloyd J. Williams
As the founding father of Crown Casino, Lloyd J. Williams is a successful Australian property developer who has also made a great career in the horse racing industry. His Melbourne Cup success began with Just A Dash in 1981, followed by What a Nuisance in 1985 then Efficient in 2007, Green Moon in 2012, Almandin in 2016 and then his sixth ‘Loving Trophy’ was secured when Rekindling won the 2017 Melbourne Cup. Incredibly the success of Team Williams in the Cup continued in 2020 when the Irish raider Twilight Payment, prepared by Joseph O’Brien who also trained Rekindling, handed connections a record seventh victory.
Tan Chin Nam
Born in 1926, Tan Chin Nam is an entrepreneur and developer in Malaysia who has also been involved in the racing industry for over 30 years. As one of the richest men in Malaysia, Tan Chin Nam is responsible for developing the world famous Shangri-La Hotel however it is his long racing relationship with Bart Cummings that makes him remembered in Australia.
Tan Chin Nam has shares in Cummings’ 1974 and 1975 Melbourne Cup winner Think Big and his other champion horse, Saintly. Although he is now retired, the man also owns 2008 Melbourne cup winner Viewed. Apart from owning horses, Tan Chin Nam also owns a stud along Wingecarribee River at Burradoo, NSW and in honour of his racing career, the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes at Mooney Valley in Melbourne were named after him.
Etienne de Mestre
With a career lasting over 30 years, Etienne de Mestre is one of the greatest horse owners the Melbourne Cup will ever get to see. Born on April 9, 1832, de Mestre began his racing career when still at school. He displayed excellent horsemanship and was a great amateur jockey and trainer. Over the next three decades, he would go on to train five and own four Melbourne Cup winners including Archer in 1861 and 1862, Tim Whiffler in 1867 and Calamia in 1878.
In the 1850s de Mestre partnered with his brother to lease a section of his mother’s land Terara and established a leading horse stud, stable and racecourse. He went on to win the Sydney Cup, Randwick Plate, VRC Derby, AJC Derby, AJC St Leger, VRC St Leger, VRC Queen’s Plate, AJC Queen’s Plate, Australian Plate and Craven Plate. At the age of 84, de Mestre passed away.
Born in Edinburgh in 1813, John Tait migrated to Tasmania in 1837 and tried his hand at the jewelery industry until he moved to Bathurst and was the licensee of the Albion Inn and Black Bull Inn. His racing career began with local race wins until he pursued his passion in Sydney and won the 1850 and 1851 AJC St Leger, 1851 Australian Plate and the Queen’s Plate.
Tait set up Byron Lodge training stables in Randwick and by 1850 he was leading trainer and owner in the colony. By this time Tait was a successful horse owner and was the first man to make horseracing a commercial business. He won the Melbourne Cup with four horses, The Barb in 1866, Glencoe in 1868, The Pearl in 1871 and The Quack in 1872. He also won four AJC Derbies, six AJC St Legers, four Victoria Derbies, two VRC St Legers, two VRC Oaks and three VRC Champion Stakes. He is now a Hall of Fame inductee.