Living Legends–Australia's Champion Racehorses

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Apache Cat Apache Cat

If you’ve ever wanted to get up close and personal with champion racehorses like Melbourne Cup winners, then a visit to Living Legends is a must.

Located in Greenvale, just a runway’s distance from Tullamarine Airport, Living Legends is part of the historic 700 hectare Woodlands Park. The horses live in the lap of luxury and tours are held twice a day, allowing visitors to pat and have their photo taken with the former champions.

Brew during a Meet & Greet session. Brew during a Meet & Greet session.

Resident equines include:

Better Loosen Up, who has won a Japan Cup, Cox Plate and Australia Cup

Might and Power, winner of the 1997 Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, and a Cox plate

Apache Cat, whose striking face markings made him a favourite Australia-wide. A sprinter, he won five group one races in a row

Brew, son of the famous sire, Sir Tristram and 2000 winner of the Melbourne Cup

Bullish Luck, 2006 Hong Kong Horse of the Year

Doriemus, winner of the Caulfield and Melbourne Cup double in 1995, and rand second to Might and Power in both Cups in 1997

Rogan Josh, 1999 Melbourne Cup winner

Paris Lane, winner of the 1994 Caulfield Cup and McKinnon Stakes, then finished second in the Melbourne Cup

Fields of Omagh, winner of the Cox plate and fourth all-time stakes earner at almost $6.5 million

Silent Witness, legend of Hong Kong racing and winner of 17 consecutive races

Bomber Bill clocked up 98 starts in five Australian states, earning $1.82 million in prizemoney.

Dual Caulfield & Melbourne winner, Might & Power. Dual Caulfield & Melbourne winner, Might & Power.

All the horses are in gorgeous large paddocks with ample grass, electric fences and sturdy, large rubber-lined sheds. There’s not a speck of manure to be seen…which probably explains the absence of flies.

Most of the paddocks contain two ‘legends’, Doriemus and Brew are inseparable…where one goes, the other follows. Doriemus suffered a bad bout of colic last year and he had only a slim chance of pulling through, however vet, Dr Andrew Clarke (CEO and Veterinary Director of Living Legends) was determined to save him. Doriemus pulled through after surgery to remove some of his bowel. After retiring from racing, Brew was destined to be a police horse, but failed the final training and eventually retired to Living Legends.

Apache Cat arrived in 2010, making him the newest recruit to Living Legends, he shares a paddock with Rogan Josh…who he bullies! He was trained by Greg Eurell, who represented Australia in Olympic showjumping. Apache Cat retired as an eight year old after fracturing his sesamoid bone.

Silent Witness is a popular attraction with Japanese tourists. He was the equivalent to Australia’s Black Caviar and a major equine celebrity there. Many Japanese tourists will visit him straight after getting off the plane. In fact, you can see Melbourne Airport from Living Legends, and watch as the planes fly overhead so close, you can almost wave to passengers through the windows! The horses are obviously well-used to this as none of them bat an eyelid. Or maybe most of them have clocked up enough flying hours of their own to be blasé about it all.

Rogan Josh, 1999 Melbourne Cup winner. Rogan Josh, 1999 Melbourne Cup winner.

Each horse has its own personality. They are caught and led up to the gate as part of the twice daily tours. Visitors aren’t allowed in the paddocks for safety purposes so you have to be content with patting them over the fence. But the horses take this with good grace, although some aren’t beyond giving a playful nip or two but fortunately the guide will warn you first. There’s plenty of opportunities for a pat and have your photo taken with them.

Most of the horses were retired from racing after breaking down, usually with leg ailments, and several sport noticeable lumps and bumps. They make frequent appearances such as the Melbourne Cup parade held in the heart of the city and guest appearances at various race meets and other functions.

Living Legends is closely modelled on the UK’s ‘Home of Rest for Horses’ with emphasis on horse health and caring for older horses. Their website has a section devoted to a series of excellent articles.

Living Legends costs $5 per person and is funded by donations, including an annual $250,000 donation by the State Government from unclaimed TAB dividend funds and $20,000 from the VRC as a legacy of the 150th running of the Melbourne Cup.

After visiting the horses, you can tour the homestead, built in 1843 and surrounded by stunning gardens. You can even take your own horses to the property and ride around the 700 hectare Woodlands Historic Park.

Living Legends is open seven days a week from 10am to 4pm, with horse tours at 11am and 2pm, or tour groups by arrangement. Disabled access can be arranged.

Photos © Top Horse.

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