Could a son of the Diva finally try to follow in her footsteps?
Advertisement

Could a son of the Diva finally try to follow in her footsteps?

There is no doubting the fact that the peerless Makybe Diva was the greatest Melbourne Cup galloper of them all.

While a handful have managed dual wins in Australia's greatest race, no horse had ever won three times in the gruelling 3200 metre handicap until the Diva and Glen Boss did so in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Not for nothing did then trainer Lee Freedman (who saddled her for two triumphs after David Hall prepared her for her first) tell everyone on course to go and find the youngest child they could, because such an infant might be the only one who would witness something similar in their lifetime.

And caller Greg Miles commentary as she crossed the line - ''when a champion becomes a legend'' - helped to indelibly etch her place in Australian racing history. There is even a Group One race named after her at Flemington this Saturday.

Advertisement

But great as Makybe was on the track - she won a Cox Plate and was beaten a fraction by a real top liner in Elvstroem in a Caulfield Cup - as a broodmare she has been something of a dud.

None of the offspring she has produced so far have, to be frank, been any good at all.

But romantics will be hoping that might change, if not this year then next, with a horse called Surrey, who still holds a Melbourne Cup entry.

He is likely to be one of the featherweights when the handicaps are announced on Tuesday, but the five year old's current trainer, New Zealand based Graeme Rogerson, is still keeping the flickering flame of hope alive.

Surrey was originally owned by five times Melbourne Cup winning owner Lloyd Williams, but he sold the son of High Chaparall (sire, amongst others, of Australian champion So You Think) to the Kiwi horseman.

Makybe Diva's offspring haven't been much good.

Makybe Diva's offspring haven't been much good. Credit:Sebastian Costanzo

The pair go back a long way as Rogerson was once Williams private trainer and in fact it is his name in the race book when the Macedon Lodge operation saddled up Efficient to win the 2007 Melbourne Cup.

Now the fact that Williams, a man who knows more than most how to select a potential Cup winner, exiled Surrey to NZ might not speak volumes about his prospects as a Cup runner, never mind winner.

But Rogerson, while admitting that there is a very long way to travel for the thrice raced gelding, says there is plenty of upside with Surrey.

He won a maiden over 1600 metres on soft ground first up last May - becoming the first progeny of the Diva ever to score on debut - before finishing second over the same trip and then sixth over 2200 metre over the next couple of weeks.

Surrey has not run since, and while he would be a write your own ticket chance at this stage of the spring, Rogerson is planning to try and at least get him competitive enough to come to Australia.

''I think he's got the making of a good horse, but he doesn't go in the heavy,'' said Rogerson from his NZ base.

''Most of our tracks have been too wet to do much. There's a lot of water to go under the bridge to get a place in the Melbourne Cup, but one thing he will do is stay and there is improvement in him.''

He acknowledges that the idea of Surrey even making the field is one that is grounded more in fantasy than reality, but now and again racing throws up some very unlikely scripts.

''I'll know in five or six weeks time. He's a lovely big horse and he has ability but he has to step up a lot and put it all together. He would have to win a race like the Lexus to be any chance of getting into the Cup.

''Its a dream at the moment and he's got to show more, but he is a nice horse.''

Michael Lynch, The Age's expert on soccer, has had extensive experience of high level journalism in the UK and Australia. Michael has covered the Socceroos through Asia, Europe and South America in their past three World Cup campaigns. He has also reported on Grands Prix and top class motor sport from Asia and Europe. He has won several national media awards for both sports and industry journalism.