An audit of the 2008-09 season shows Price Waterhouse on top of the Group One table with Mick Price and Gai Waterhouse training six winners apiece.
Waterhouse, who also claimed her seventh Sydney premiership, has been the leading Group One trainer on more than one occasion but for Price it was confirmation of his standing among the country’s elite.
Outstanding as their achievements were, both trainers took a back seat to one of the greatest there has ever been – Bart Cummings.
On the country’s biggest stage Cummings took front and centre when Viewed gave him is 12th Melbourne Cup in 2008.
It was also Cummings’ 250th Group One winner, a figure that would be stretched to 253 by season’s end.
Officially a legend in his own lifetime, Cummings shows no inclination to drift into retirement as he approaches another spring and his 82nd birthday.
“What could be better than training horses,” is his standard reply when asked why he keeps doing it.
His son Anthony is also a successful trainer but continues to marvel at his father has achieved.
“He certainly gives you something to aim at,” he said after the Melbourne Cup in which his runner Red Lord finished out of the placings.
He kept aiming up but a few days after the Melbourne Cup found himself on the receiving end again when the Bart cummings-trained Swick took out the Patinack Farm Classic from Turffontein.
Anthony claimed a Group One victory with Duporth during the Brisbane winter but the final word went to Bart when Russeting won the Winter Stakes 2009.
Once again it was Anthony on the debit side of the ledger with Prima Nova runner-up in the last Group One of the season.
Bart’s other Group One victory was with Roman Emperor in the AJC Australian Derby, a win that stamped him as a contender for this year’s 2009 Melbourne Cup.
Tough campaigner Theseo stepped up to the mark for Waterhouse, winning three Group One races, the 2008 Epsom Handicap and 2008 Mackinnon Stakes in the spring and the 2009 Ranvet Stakes in the autumn.
Gallica was responsible for two of Price’s elite victories but the stable’s sweetest was the Queen Elizabeth Stakes win by problem-plagued Pompeii Ruler.
After winning six Group Ones the year before, reigning champion Weekend Hussler added the 2008 Underwood Stakes to his tally but failed to live up to trainer Ross McDonald’s hopes he could be a Cups contender.
His autumn campaign was abandoned when he was found to be injured.
Star filly Samantha Miss sparkled in the spring by winning the Princess Series culminating in the Flight Stakes.
She looked a winning hope in the 2008 Cox Plate but Maldivian found his right form to beat Zipping and the filly.
Maldivian’s win was tempered with the defeat of stablemate and short priced favourite Whobegotyou a week later in the 2008 Victoria Derby.
Although the winner, Rebel Raider was a 100-1 shot, the crowd still cheered enthusiastically as Clare Lindop brought him back to the enclosure.
The stable rider for Adelaide trainer Leon Macdonald, Lindop became the first woman to win the classic and the pair later added the South Australian Derby to their resume.
Sadly, she was injured after her first autumn start and immediately retired.
The season also brought an end to the career of champion sprinter Takeover Target but not before he treated racegoers to one of his finest performances.
The TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick seemed there for Apache Cat to defend and punters thought he would win easily.
He didn’t get close.
Takeover Target stole a march on his opponents at the top of the Randwick rise and careered away to a stunning win.
It was on the other side of the world the nine-year-old’s racing days came to an end with just his loyal trainer and best friend Joe Janiak to comfort him.
Takeover Target took a mis-step after his seventh in the July Cup and broke a bone in his leg.
He is still recuperating but a hero’s welcome awaits him when he arrives home later this year.
Each Group One win has its own tale and there were 67 during the year.
Among the other highlights was the emergence of young West Australian trainer Dan Morton, trainer of Scenic Shot who won the 2009 Doomben Cup and Scenic Blast who beat the best Europe had to offer at Royal Ascot.
Con Karakatsanis was another to emerge with Black Piranha taking out the 2009 Stradbroke Handicap after three consecutive Group One placings.
Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley Australia celebrated its first full season with five Group One wins but perhaps more satisfying was the 2008 Caulfield Cup win by All The Good.
Racing in the blue made famous in Europe by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin stable, All The Good gave the organisation its first success after years of travelling horses across the globe.
Article by Caryl Williamson Aapracing