Champions inducted in to the Walk Of Fame

This week saw two of the Waikato's favourite sons inducted into the Cambridge 'Sporting Walk of Fame'.

Hosted by the Waipa District Council at the impressive Avantidrome cycling track, champion racehorse SO YOU THINK and champion sire, VOLKSRAAD now deservedly grace Duke Street with their presence with a commemorative mosaic set into the footpath. They join numerous legendary thoroughbreds including SIR TRISTRAM and EIGHT CARAT as well as 13 (and counting) Melbourne Cup winners. They were inducted with moving citations by auctioneer Steve Davis. Here are the citations:

Volksraad– a history making, record breaking stallion

Volksraad resided at Windsor Park Stud, Cambridge for the majority of his outstanding stud career, dying at the age of 23 just after Xmas, 2011. He commenced stud duties in 1993 and made an immediate impact with his first-crop runners winning New Zealand's Champion Sire of Two Year Olds title in the 1996/97 racing season and siring 9 elite stakes winners which included Champion 2YO Thriller.Following that auspicious start, Volksraad continued on to fashion an outstanding record and was New Zealand's dominant domestic stallion in the first decade of the New Millenium.

The trophy for New Zealand's Champion Sire is the Grosvenor Award and Volksraad won this accolade eight out of the first ten years in the New Millenium, finishing runner-up on the other two occasions. This achievement constitutes a modern day record as it is more than seventy years since the great Cambridge-based stallion Foxbridge dominated the decade between 1940 and 1950.

Volksraad's feat of winning the Champion Sires title on eight occasions is the second greatest reign of success in the 108 year history of thoroughbred stallion championships in New Zealand, an accomplishment all the more meritorious considering competition is considerably stronger in this day and age.

Volksraad's achievements also include finishing second in the race for the celebrated 2004/05 Dewar Award, an honour accorded for the most prizemoney won by the progeny of a New Zealand based stallion throughout Australasia.

Although deceased for 2 ½ years Volksraad has sired 63 elite stakes winners to date which includes 38 Group winners and 14 Group One winners with his most recent stakes winner just a few weeks ago at the end of the 2013/14 racing season, a testament to his enduring influence which is now also being furthered through his broodmare daughters at stud.

In addition to New Zealand, Volksraad has sired major stakes winners in Australia, South Africa and Singapore. In the 2006/07 racing season he became the first stallion in New Zealand history to break through the $2 million barrier in domestic prizemoney earnings, a threshold level he has breached three times since. His total progeny earnings worldwide increases daily and currently exceeds $51.7 million.

Volksraad has made a wonderful contribution to the local Cambridge economy, through attracting significant support from mare owners throughout Australia and New Zealand while at stud here at Windsor Park and also through the sales of his yearlings and racehorses. As well his outstanding achievements as a stallion in the storied history of the New Zealand thoroughbred rank him as one of the greatest to have stood at stud in New Zealand.

The honour was accepted into the Walk of Fame by Nelson Schick of Windsor Park Stud.

So You Think - A horse of a life-time

Born and bred in November 2006 in the lush Waikato, So You Think (by High Chaparral from Triassic) was raised and sold by Cambridge's Windsor Park Stud on behalf of his breeders Michael Moran and Alex & Cecile Smith, all residents of Cambridge.

It was at the 2008 Karaka Yearling Sales that So You Think first caught the eye of legendary Australian trainer Bart Cummings, where his team purchased the colt for $110,000. The master trainer developed the colt into a racehorse that captivated Australasia's racing public, with his rock star good looks, gentle nature and incredible talent.

So You Think's racing career started as a 2 year old, with an impressive debut win at Sydney's Rosehill racecourse. In his classic year, Cummings took the promising three year old colt to Melbourne for the famous Spring Racing Carnival. In a career defining moment, he led all the way to win the prestigious $3 million Cox Plate, the premier weight for age event of the Southern Hemisphere. So You Think became the first horse ever to achieve this at only his fifth race start. From his arrival in Melbourne as a little known colt, So You Think left as a rising star and would soon be named the champion three year old of his generation.

A year later, the Spring Carnival of 2010 belonged to one horse – So You Think. He had a weight for age clean sweep, winning the Memsie Stakes, Underwood Stakes, Yalumba Stakes, MacKinnon Stakes - and earning legendary status when he won the Cox Plate again. In scintillating style, So You Think became the only horse in history to win the race as both a three and four year old. The handsome stallion was Australasian racing's biggest star, almost as famous as his trainer, with whom he won 5 Group 1 races.

So You Think was so unique, he captured the attention of the international racing world. Breeding giant Coolmore made an offer too big to refuse, making him the most expensive thoroughbred ever sold in Australasia.

His northern hemisphere journey began with the move to champion trainer Aidan O'Brien's Ballydoyle Stables in Ireland. It was the start of a globetrotting odyssey that saw So You Think compete in some of the world's most elite races. Highlights of his international career include defeating the Queen's horse in the Prince Of Wales' Stakes at Royal Ascot, and winning the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown against the Arc de Triomphe and English Derby winner, Workforce.

So You Think retired as the most successful Australasian thoroughbred to grace the international stage, with an unprecedented 5 Group 1 wins in the northern hemisphere to add to his 5 from Australia, earning more than $10 million in prize money.

On the occasion of So You Think's retirement, Bart Cummings was asked for comment on his protégé. The maestro declared "Perfection on four legs, I couldn't put it any better than that. You don't get any better than him, he is the finest, most genuine horse I have ever trained."

Now standing at Coolmore Stud, shuttling between Ireland and Australia, the racing world awaits the eventual arrival on the racetrack of his progeny. So You Think's offspring are very well regarded, with a number being raised right here in Cambridge, the town of champions - bringing full circle the wonderful legacy of this incredible champion thoroughbred.

The honour was accepted into the Walk of Fame by co-breeder Michael Moran

- Nicola Griffiths


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