Home Inductees Event Photo Gallery Event Sponsors NZ Racing History News About us Board Members Untitled Document

TULLOCH

In the inaugural series of Hall of Fame inductees, two thoroughbreds that raced almost entirely outside their country of birth made the list. Carbine, who raced in New Zealand only as an unbeaten two-year-old and achieved fame across the Tasman, and Phar Lap, who was sold at Trentham as a yearling and never raced in his homeland, were champions of such quality that it was felt they deserved to be honoured by the country where they were bred, born and raised.

One other New Zealand-bred horse, in the opinion of the HOF Historical Committee, also merits that special recognition.

Tulloch, the swampy-backed little colt who attracted the attention of top Sydney trainer Tommy Smith – and not many others – at the 1956 Trentham yearling sale, had that extra dimension, that near-freakish ability, which stamps the handful of greats.

He won 36 of his 53 starts, was only once out of the money and set a then Australasian stake-earning record of 108,293 pounds, a record for 11 years. Yet he lost nearly two years of his career – his four- and five-year-old seasons when he should have been at his prime – through a debilitating and recurrent stomach illness which nearly killed him.

You probably had to be around in the late 1950s to appreciate the excitement, emotion and controversy Tulloch aroused.

He was a star at two years, his defeat of the Victorian champion Todman in what was virtually a match race, the AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes, a sensation. Todman, winner of the inaugural Golden Slipper, turned the tables at a shorter distance a week later but they never met again, Todman breaking down as a three-year-old.

Meanwhile Tulloch made non-stop headlines through the first half of his three-year-old season, not only for the quality of his form (his wins in the AJC Derby, Caulfield Guineas and Caulfield Cup were all stunning performances) but for his highly controversial scratching from the Melbourne Cup. Tommy Smith rated the colt a Melbourne Cup certainty but was unable to persuade his sick and elderly owner, Evelyn Haley, to start him after a media campaign, spearheaded by the Ezra Norton-owned newspapers, against the "cruelty" of running a three-year-old in the two-mile Cup.

In Tulloch’s absence, Straight Draw won the 1957 Melbourne Cup. Who owned him? Newspaper tycoon Ezra Norton. Who ran second to Straight Draw, beaten only a neck? The three-year-old Prince Darius, whom Tulloch beat by eight lengths in the VRC Derby and, in the autumn, by 20 lengths in the AJC St Leger.

Robbed of his four-year-old season by the recurring gastroenteritis, Tulloch resumed in the autumn as a five-year-old and won each of his five comeback starts. The first of these involved a hard-slugging stretch-long duel with Victorian weight-for-age star Lord which Tulloch won by a short head. Not bad for a horse considered by most to never quite regain, after that long illness, the height of his three-year-old powers.

Tulloch was handicapped at top weight for four Melbourne Cups and raced in it only once, in the 1960 Centenary Cup (after winning the Cox Plate and Mackinnon Stakes). It was the only time he was unplaced, and Neville Sellwood received no plaudits for his ride. Under 10st 1lb, Tulloch was 25 lengths off the leaders at the half-mile and he made ground for seventh behind longshot New Zealand mare Hi Jinx. Tulloch wound up his career in Queensland, where he won the O’Shea Stakes and Brisbane Cup and was given an emotional farewell by a 33,000-strong Brisbane crowd.

 

 

 

<< back