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The All-Time Best New Zealand-Bred Racehorses
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

When it comes to the horse racing greats, many hail from a handful of nations: America, the UK, France, and, more recently, Dubai. There’s also another and more surprising country of origin that crops up in lists of the most elite equine athletes, and that’s New Zealand.

Despite its landmass, New Zealand has a population of a mere five million, but its equine population is more impressive – and on a par with those of far larger countries. With a whopping 120,000 horses, 40,000 involved in the racing industry, it manages to perform admirably on the global sporting stage.

So, which famous racehorses is New Zealand responsible for? Here are three of its finest.

Phar Lap

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If you were alive in the '30s, Phar Lap is one horse you’d likely have been backing. One of the finest racehorses ever bred, he was foaled in New Zealand, despite winning the majority of his races in neighboring Australia.

The incredible chestnut took home numerous Group 1 titles, including the Melbourne Cup and Cox Plate. Renowned for his incredible size and stamina, Phar Lap's career was tragically cut short in 1932, when he’s believed to have been poisoned pre-race while competing in Mexico.


In the 1950s and 60s, it was Tulloch who was the star of his day. His list of achievements is as long as your arm, but suffice it to say he won most of the Group 1 races of the time. Running primarily in Australia, Tulloch’s accolades included the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate, and Caulfield Guineas. What’s most notable about the remarkable bay stallion is his versatility, with his many victories covering distances from five furlongs to two miles.


Who can forget the brilliant bay Sunline? Racing around the turn of the millennium, this incredible athlete was one of the finest horses ever to compete in Australasia. Another winner of the Cox Plate – twice over in her case – she stormed to victory in numerous Group 1 races throughout Australia and New Zealand.

In 2000, Sunline was flown overseas, where she went on to win the Hong Kong Mile. She finished her career on a high, having been New Zealand Horse of the Year twice and Australian Horse of the Year three times. Out of 48 runs, she had an incredible 32 wins and nine seconds, so that upon her retirement, Sunline had more stakes wins than any other horse in the history of Australasia.

When it comes to breeding incredible racehorses, it’s fair to say New Zealand has contributed its fair share of greats. We look forward to seeing how many more of its incredible equine athletes will dominate on the global stage in 2021.

You can find more interesting articles in our section on Horse Racing.

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