Vo Rogue wins again at Hall of Fame
VO ROGUE gallops into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame this week, but trainer the late Vic Rail found the small, ungainly Queenslander unremarkable at first sight and noted he made the sound "erk" as though he was going to be sick.
But "Erky", as the little bay gelding with the big heart was known around Rail's Hendra stables, became the greatest show on turf in the late 1980s and led from the front so spectacularly for so long that ``doing a Vo Rogue'' became a popular catchphrase for a runaway victory.
He made millions of dollars for punters and changed the life of his jockey, Cyril Small, a little battler who came from obscurity to ride the champion in 22 of his 26 victories.
``He was not much to look at and I never thought he would rise to the great heights he did,'' Small said yesterday at Brisbane's Howard Smith Wharves for the announcement of Vo Rogue's 2019 Hall of Fame induction.
``He'd only won a two-year-old maiden at Eagle Farm midweek when I first saw him. I thought he was a handy little horse and that he might make novice class in Brisbane.
``But Vic Rail decided to take him to Melbourne and he loved running down there the other way on a firm track.
``In my first ride on him at Flemington he won by eight lengths on Australia Cup day. He always wanted to jump and run and lead from the front and when he took off he was almost impossible to catch.
``Later he settled down and a couple of times he came from behind to win. I won on him once from 16 lengths back at the 600m mark in a 1010m race at Doomben.''
Vo Rogue dominated the weight-for-age races at the autumn carnivals between 1988-1990, winning three CF Orr Stakes and two Australian Cups, beating champions such as Bonecrusher, Super Impose, Our Poetic Prince, Better Loosen Up and Campaign King. He also scored victories in the Futurity Stakes, two Turnbull Stakes, two Blamey Stakes and two St George Stakes.
Small still mourns the great horse, who died in 2012 at the age of 28.
Although Vo Rogue's career started slowly, he quickly gathered pace as a frontrunner. From 83 starts he had 26 wins - 11 of them, now classed as Group 1s - and 23 placings.
The other horses inducted into the Hall of Fame this year are Brisbane Cup winner Balmerino, who ran second to the great Alleged in the 1977 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe; Hall Mark, who won the 1933 Melbourne Cup; and So You Think, a two-time winner of the Cox Plate.
Hugh Bowman, who was already a star jockey before riding Winx to her world record 25 consecutive Group 1 wins, is also being inducted along with four-time Cox Plate winner Brent Thomson.
John Meagher, who trained What A Nuisance to victory in the 1985 Melbourne Cup, is one of two training inductees along with the great Victorian jumps trainer Des McCormick.
Queensland-based Williams brothers Sir Edward and Sir Sydney are being inducted for their lifelong devotion to the racing industry along with former VRC chairman of stipendiary stewards Pat Lalor.
A four-time Cox Plate and Doomben Cup winner, Bowman was awarded the Longines World's Best Jockey Award in 2017 after scoring in 10 of the top 100 races across the globe.
He also rode So You Think when the 10-time Group 1 winner took out the 2009 Gloaming Stakes at Rosehill.
``It's an absolute privilege and more than a bit humbling," Bowman said of his induction.
``To be honest, off the back of the emotional roller-coaster with Winx, who has played such a significant part of my time as a professional jockey, it's hard to put into words.
``Along with Winx, I've enjoyed a significant amount of international success and that doesn't come without sacrifices by myself and my family."
Sir Sydney Williams was the driving force behind the two-day Cairns Amateurs Racing Carnival, which continues to thrive to this day.
Sir Edward Williams was xhairman of the Queensland Turf Club from 1980 to 1991 and sat on the committee from 1966 to 1993.
A black-tie induction ceremony will be held at Moda Events Portside on Friday night.
The 2019 Australian Racing Museum and Hall of Fame Inductees
Hall Mark (1930)
So You Think (2006)
Vo Rogue (1983)
Lloyd Patrick (Pat) Lalor
Sir Edward Williams and Sir Sydney Williams