The greatest grey horses in thoroughbred racing history

Chautauqua inspired everyone at Randwick for The Championships with a scintillating finish. Picture: Bradley Photos.

IN a world full of brown horses, it always pays to be grey.

Chautauqua’s astonishing performance in the 2017 TJ Smith Stakes gave hope to all the against the grain types that grey can slay, so in honour of the Thunder From Down Under we took a look back through the annals of thoroughbred racing at some of the greatest greys to grace the track.

There are some special types here, so we will excuse anyone that gets a bit of a tear in their eye looking over this list.

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Few greys have captured the imagination of the Australian sporting landscape quite like Subzero.

The superstar took out the 1992 Melbourne Cup in spectacular fashion by defeating race favourite Veandercross, and went on to become a crowd pleasurer at racetracks and public events around the country.

Subzero truly was the people’s horse.

Rooster Booster

All the horses on this list are unique due to their coats, but English jumper Rooster Booster stands out for more reasons than one.

Described by the English press as a horse that ‘raced with its heart on its sleeve’, Rooster Booster’s appeal to punters was palpable given they always knew the horse would give 100 percent effort.

Another incredible feat of the horse was the fact it became the only notable progeny of unsuccessful racehorse Riverwise.


The grey girl Surround belongs on a multitude of top-10 lists and comfortably sits alongside the greats in this compilation.

To this day the New Zealand-bred horse is the only galloper in Cox Plate history to win the race as a filly.

The 1977 Australian Racehorse of the Year was the embodiment of the phrase “one of a kind”.


Efficient may have been a money-burner for many a punter over the journey, but there is no doubt at its absolute best the Lloyd Williams runner was a superstar.

The horse’s record of 29 starts for seven wins and one placing exemplifies the all-or-nothing style of the Efficient.

Winning the 2007 Melbourne Cup at mammoth odds was one of the great moments for the grey, who rewarded punters who stayed true.

Racing To Win

Racing To Win was a special runner and could be the most prolific big-race grey on this list.

The John O’Shea-trained runner won seven group one titles, including wins in Melbourne, Sydney and at the Magic Millions, Racing To Win was a special sprinter that is not only considered a great grey but one of the best short-journey horses in Australian history.

Lady’s Secret

A true great of the American horseracing scene, Lady Secret is considered by many as the greatest mare in US thoroughbred history.

Winning 25 races from 45 starts is impressive enough, but when you see that it took out 12 grade one (American group one equivalent races) you start to get a scope for just how impressive the daughter of Secretariat was.

Lady Secret has a big race named after it in the states, so chalk another one up to the greys.

Gold Edition

As far as sprinting mares go, Gold Edition is in the conversation as a top-three candidate for the greatest of all-time.

Good thing it is a grey too.

The Queensland superstar captured the imagination of the Australian racing public in a way few others have – through sheer talent coupled with a dogged determination to win.

The ultimate battler story, the horse was trained by little known handler Ron Maund, who steered the mare to 16 wins from 37 starts including two at group one level.


It may not be one of the most recognisable runners in Australian racing history, but Gunsynd’s record is impeccable.

Missing the placings just ten times in its 54 start career, everything about the grey oozed class.

Winning the Australian Racehorse of the Year title in 1972, Gunsynd is part of the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.

Most notably, the horse is the only animal featured in the Queensland Icons list that was announced in 2009, and in the grey has a statue in its home town of Goondiwindi in its honour.

The accolades alone speak for themselves.

Ming Dynasty

What a superstar the Bart Cummings-trained gelding was.

The great grey won the 1977 and 1980 Caulfield Cups in impressive fashion, becoming the first horse since Rising Fast achieved the feat in 1954 and 1955.

No horse has been able to double up in the cup since, highlighting just how special the grey was.

Like Subzero, Ming Dynasty became a fan favourite as the clerk of the course around racing venues in NSW.

It takes a special horse to have a race named after it, further solidifying Ming Dyansty’s legacy.

Desert Orchid

Being dubbed “Britian’s best-loved racehorse” is a high honour, and one that makes those from outside the UK sit up and take notice given their long and storied history in thoroughbred racing.

An absolute class animal that had stacks of ability, the main aspect that drew punters to Desert Orchid was its sheer will and determination.

The 1989 Cheltenham Gold Cup summed how everything great about the grey, given conditions did not suit, the horse was negotiating a longer distance than normal and a quality field.

The horse affectionately “Dessie” sits among any great racehorse list, much less a great grey one.