Who was I?

3 min read
In our weekly series, we take a walk down memory lane to learn about some of the characters, both human and equine, in whose honour our important races are named. This week we look at Aurie’s Star (Stardrift {GB}), who has the G3 Aurie’s Star H. at Flemington this weekend.

In the big picture of Australian history, 1932 was unforgettable. It was the year the Harbour Bridge opened in Sydney, and the year Phar Lap (NZ) died so shockingly in California. But it was also the year the fleet-footed sprinter Aurie’s Star was born, a dazzling little horse from South Australia with a record-setting turn of foot.

Aurie’s Star was bred in the South Australian district of Hamley Bridge by a local farmer, E.D. Murphy, who dabbled in breeding racehorses. In 1932, Murphy was as affected by the Great Depression as anyone, and he opted to send one of his two mares to a cheap, local stallion called Stardrift (GB).

Aurie’s Star

The result was a pony-looking Aurie’s Star, a youngster more “like a buggy horse” than a racehorse. He was bay, neat and correct, but he didn’t inspire a lot of praise.

Aurie’s Star was leased from Murphy by Adelaide man George Badman with a £400 option of purchase thrown in. Almost immediately, the little horse displayed great speed in training under the care of Gawler trainer Jack Doyle and, later, Robert Sinclair.

By the beginning of 1937, Aurie’s Star had shown terrific dash in South Australia, and he immortalised it by winning the five-and-a-half furlong Oakleigh Plate in February. A fortnight later, he won the Newmarket H. up the straight six at Flemington, becoming the first horse since Wakeful (Trenton {NZ}) in 1901 to do so.

Wakeful, the first winner of the Oakleigh Plate-Newmarket H. double in 1901

After this rare double, Badman exercised his option of purchase, which was a clever tactic given Aurie’s Star was far more valuable than £400.

The sharp little sprinter won the Oakleigh Plate again in 1939, and he was the first horse to win the famous sprint twice. It was a record that stood until Dual Choice (Showdown {GB}) in 1972.

Aurie’s Star also won The Goodwood H. at Morphettville in 1940, by then a rising 8-year-old. In fact, the bay gelding raced until he was 10 years old and, after a short hiatus, he was returned to racing until 1944. Finally, aged 12, he was officially done.

For a long time past his retirement, Aurie’s Star held the six-furlong Australasian record of 1:08.25. He set it down the Flemington straight six in September 1940, carrying an amazing 10st2lbs, or 64.5kg. When he won The Goodwood in the same year, he won by 5l and smashed the race record by half-a-second.

The late trainer of Aurie's Star, Robert Sinclair (third from left), at the presentation of the 1953 Melbourne Cup trophy for Wodalla | Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

Aurie's Star retired with close to £13,000 of winnings in Badman’s kitty, and his wins numbered 28 out of 89 lifetime starts.

In October 1944, the old gelding raced his last race at Morphettville and then walked the 68 miles to Badman’s Rhynie property. He had a good life thereafter, enjoying it until the age of 19 when he died on April 30, 1952. Badman buried him close by.

Aurie’s Star died with the six-furlong Australasian record still in his pocket, and the race in his name was instigated in 2005. It’s been won by the likes of Mic Mac (Statue Of Liberty {USA}), Temple Of Boom (Piccolo {GB}) and Sooboog as a fitting, six-furlong scamper down Flemington’s straight six.

Who Was I?
Aurie's Star