Lets cast our minds back 20 years ago, and remember a WA horse who put WA racing back on the map on a national scale and showed those eastern staters that WA could produce quality WA horses to compete in the eastern states
Twenty years ago on November 2nd, 1999, Rogan Josh won the Melbourne Cup and became only the third WA horse to win the race.....there hasn't been a WA horse win it since.
A winner of the Bunbury Cup and Pinjarra Cup in 1998, Rogan Josh showed he wasn't just a country staying-type horse with runner-up placings in the Group 2 C.B Cox Stakes at 2400m weight-for-age and the Group 2 Perth Cup at 3200m. Bart Cummings was also on course at that 1999 Perth Cup and was impressed with his 2nd placing in the Perth Cup, added to the fact that Rogan Josh had no wear and tear on his legs and was lightly raced for a seven year-old (he started his career as a four year-old), and Cummings agreed to take him. Rogan Josh (by Old Spice out of Eastern Mystique), was then sent east to Bart Cummings and a tilt at the Melbourne Cup. All was forgotten really and no big write ups or commentary was noted and when August markets were first released for the Melbourne Cup - Rogan Josh was at the juicy odds of 250/1.
His first start with Bart was a run down the "Straight Six" at Flemington in the Auries Star Handicap and he finished last in a 7-horse field, eight lengths away from the winner Hula Wonder. The next start was a 10th placing in the Group 2 Feehan Stakes at 1600m weight for age, 7.9 lengths away from the winner Inaflury. It's fair to say that the tight Moonee Valley circuit with its shirt straight never suited the big Rogan Josh of nearly 17 hands. However the Cummings stable thought he was a chance in the Listed J.R.A Cup (at Moonee Valley) but he finished 7th...8.8 lengths behind the winner Brave Chief. When Cummings flew into Melbourne, he asked what happened with Rogan Josh in the J.R.A Cup. He asked stable foreman Reg Fleming: "What happened with that Perth horse, has he eaten all of his feed" to which Reg replied with: "Yep" Bart said:" Is he working ok during trackwork" to which Reg replied with: "Yep" then Bart said: "Well we are not working him hard enough"
The change in trackwork worked wonders, Rogan Josh's next start was a win in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes at 2400m (ridden by Darren Gauci) by two lengths. However Rogan Josh's Herbert Power win was derided by some Melbourne journalist's with one saying: "Rogan Josh's win in the Herbert Power Stakes, ha....even I could run 2nd in a Perth Cup" Quite clearly the journo's over east didn't rate the stayer from the west.
Rogan Josh then started at odds of 25/1 and carried 51.5kg in the Caulfield Cup and had the wide barrier of 16 and led before the home turn and also turning for home.......only to be run down in the last 150m by Sky Heights the winner, Laebeel in 2nd place and Josticks in 3rd.........all sired by the great Zabeel. Chris Munce rode Rogan Josh that day and had it been for a more patient ride he could of finished closer or maybe even won it. He finished 4th in the Caulfield Cup. Suddenly everyone wanted to know more about "Bart's Perth horse". Quite clearly this horse had some ability, added to the fact that he had already placed at the Melbourne Cup distance (with his 2nd placing in the Perth Cup earlier that year) and only had 50kg in the Melbourne Cup, his odds shortened to about 25/1.
Rogan Josh's next start was on Victoria Derby day - in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington at weight-for-age and this time he was to be ridden by Perth born jockey John Marshall. The idea behind this was that Bart wanted to teach Rogan Josh from pulling too hard and to ride him further back in the field. He had pulled a bit in the Herbert Power and the Caulfield Cup, so the Mackinnon was all about teaching him to settle in his races. It was a fast run Mackinnon and this suited Rogan Josh because he ran over the top of them coming from behind to win at odds of 16/1. The time of 2:00.30 is still the equal fastest time for the Mackinnon Stakes and matches the time set by Horlicks in the 1989 Mackinnon.
Rogan Josh carried 58kg in the Mackinnon, however he would carry just 50kg in the Cup - a massive 8kg drop. No horse since Rogan Josh, has dropped more in weight from its final lead up race to the Melbourne Cup. The closest was Brew in 2000, who dropped 7.5kg from the Hotham Handicap (56.5kg) to the Melbourne Cup (49kg).
On Melbourne Cup day Rogan Josh started at odds of around 5/1 or 6/1 and would start second favourite. If not for barrier 21, he might of been favourite. John Marshall rode Rogan Josh patiently and waited until the last 200m to let him loose and ground Central Park down in the last 100m to win by half a length and give Bart his 11th Melbourne Cup
Rogan Josh then ran in the Sandown Classic ten days after his Cup win and then represented Australia on the international stage by running 4th in the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase at 2400m weight-for-age - only 2.5 lengths away from the winner Borgia who in 1997 ran 3rd in the Arc.
Leg problems began to surface during the autumn of 2000 and Rogan Josh was retired. He won $2,683,692 in prize money which now days is probably worth around $6 million. Nowdays Rogan Josh spends his time at the Living Legends retirement farm in Melbourne and is a nice natured and relaxed horse enjoys pats from the public and making the odd appearance at race meetings.
Rogan Josh was the start of WA's comeback onto the national scale. He showed that WA could still produce quality horses to win in the eastern states at the highest level. This is true because horses like Northerly, Miss Andretti, Plastered, Scenic Shot, Scenic Blast, Hay List, Old Comrade, Ethiopia, Cedarberg, Black Heart Bart, Vega Magic, Gatting, Scales Of Justice (and many more) came onto the scene and all won Group 1s in the eastern states - these WA bred horses showed they could compete with the best in the east just like Rogan Josh had done.
To Rogan Josh, we salute you, thanks for winning me money and I'm sure you made a lot of West Aussies happy. Thanks for putting WA racing back on the map. 20 years ago you triumphed on the biggest racing stage in Australia and all of WA was behind you, and you will never be forgotten.
Rogan Josh (AUS) - The Stats
Sire: Old Spice (AUS)
Dam: Eastern Mystique (AUS)
Date Of Birth: 30/9/1992
First Race: 16/1/1997 (as a 4 year-old)
Last Race: 12/12/1999 (as a 7 year-old)
Career Record: 38 Starts: 13-6-1 (including 28 top five finishes)
Stakes (Group/Listed) Record: 18 Starts: 5-3-0
Prize Money: $2,683,692
Distances Won: 1400m (4), 1675m (2), 1800m (2), 200m (1), 2200m (2), 2400m (1), 3200m (1)
Distances Placed: 1400m (1), 1600m (1), 1650m (1), 1670m (1), 2200m (1), 2400m (1), 3200m (1)
Highest Timeform Rating (win): 115: Group 1 1999 Mackinnon Stakes
Highest Timeform Rating in career: 119: 4th - Group 1 1999 Hong Kong Vase
1999 Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m hcp)
1999 Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m WFA)
1999 Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m hcp)
1998 Group 3 Bunbury Cup (2200m hcp)
1998 Listed Pinjarra Cup (2200m hcp)
Best minor Performances:
4th - 1999 Group 1 Hong Kong Vase (2400m WFA)
4th - 1999 Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m hcp)
2nd - 1999 Group 2 Perth Cup (3200m hcp)
2nd - 1998 Group 2 C.B Cox Stakes (2400m WFA)
2nd - 1999 Group 3 Bunbury Cup (2200m hcp)
4th - 1999 Group 3 Strickland Stakes (1800m WFA)