One of five horses to be inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2005, the sixth to complete the Cups Double, and the only horse to ever win the Cups Double and the Sydney Cup in the same season, Galilee was a New Zealand stayer that solidified the burgeoning reputation of Bart Cummings, giving the trainer the second of his three consecutive Melbourne Cup victories in 1966.
Galilee played no minor role in Cummings’s winning his first Trainer’s Premiership in that season, so here is a look at the horse that continued a long line of champion stayers that New Zealand has to its credit.
Galilee, a bay gelding, was foaled at Trelawney Stud in Cambridge, New Zealand in 1962. The sire was a British horse named Alcimedes that was standing for the first time after a racing career that featured 34 starts for six wins and 14 placings. Galilee’s dam was the New Zealand product Galston that would go on to be named New Zealand Broodmare of the Year in 1967 as the result of producing Galilee.
An interesting aspect of Galilee’s lines is the presence of Tracery, a U.S. horse bred in Kentucky in 1909, something not commonly found in horses from Australia and New Zealand, especially during those times. Tracery was a quite adequate racer that was named Champion three-year-old Male in England. Another facet that attracts attention is the presence of Hyperion (1930 – Great Britain) on both sides four generations back, and Gainsborough (1915 – Great Britain), again on both sides, five generations back.
Of course, superior bloodstock does not guarantee results, but Galilee produced results in spades after being purchased for £3,780 by Cummings on behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Maxwell Bailey of Adelaide, South Australia.
For a horse running in the 60s, Galilee would have to be considered as having been lightly raced. He made just 36 starts and was compelled to his final retirement in 1969, the result of injuries that hampered him. He did win half of his starts, ran second six times and third of four occasions, so he must be forgiven for running unplaced just eight times.
If he ran as a two-year-old, records do not provide much information regarding any races or results.
As a three-year-old, it is a very different story. He jumped 11 times, winning seven whilst racing in South Australia.
When he went to the main stages as a four-year-old, he was ready to show the punters at the metro tracks another New Zealand champion. He ran second in the Epsom Handicap, and then immediately won the 1600 metre Toorak Handicap on the first day of the MRC’s Spring Carnival at Caulfield racecourse. Held on Caulfield Guineas day (8 October in 1966), it was considered a principal race at the time, but was declared Group 1 quality beginning in 1979 when the ARB’s current grading system made its debut.
Not long after, he was stretched to 2400 metres in a match-up with none other than Tobin Bronze, the pre-race favourite and 1966 Cox Plate winner shortly after Galilee smashed him in the Caulfield Cup.
In winning the Caulfield Cup, Galilee gave Bart Cummings his first of his seven wins in the prestigious event. He became just the sixth horse to win the Cups Double, following Even Stevens in 1962 and preceding Gurner’s Lane in 1982.
That win set the stage for the 1966 Melbourne Cup. Bart Cummings certainly did nothing to tarnish his reputation on that day, since with Galilee’s win and second place getter Light Fingers both from his operation, about the only possible shortfall he could claim was that third place went to Duo from the stables of A. Dickerson. Light Fingers had supplied Cummings with the Cup in 1965, and he also had Ziema to finish second. He would find himself in possession of his third consecutive Cup win the following year courtesy of Red Handed.
The 1966 Melbourne Cup win is often considered as one of the best of all time. Galilee was carrying a big weight for a four-year-old, 57 kg., but he was still the 11/2 favourite over stable mate and previous year’s winner Light Fingers. Galilee’s finishing sprint is usually described in reverent terms, and jockey J.J. Miller actually eased him in the final few metres so as not to negatively impact the self-esteem of Light Fingers and his jockey, “Professor” Roy Higgins.
That bit of sportsmanship might have backfired, however, because later in the season, Light Fingers would return the favour with a five-length victory in the LKS Mackinnon Stakes.
In fall of 1967, Galilee would win the Sydney Cup, carrying 60kg., becoming the first and only horse to win the Cups Double and the Sydney Cup in one season. He won that race by six lengths.
His final two major wins came in 1968, those being the Memsie Stakes at Caulfield and the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington. The Memsie win came at 1800 metres and the Turnbull at that time was 2400 metres.
Other major wins for Galilee include the C.B. Fisher Plate (1966), the VRC Queens Plate (1967), VRC Queen Elizabeth Stakes (1967), and the AJC Autumn Stakes (1967).
Bart Cummings unabashedly refers to Galilee as the best horse he ever trained and he should know a thing or two about horses. Galilee had the remarkable abilities of being competent and various distances in in any track conditions.
Of course, as a gelding, Galilee had no stud value. When he retired from racing, he lived out his years until 1989 at the Beaufields Stud near Gawler, South Australia. When he died, he was buried outside the Gawler Racetrack. He was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2005, a year that included Chatham, Eurythmic, Gunsyd and Todman, which give some idea of the esteem in which he was held.
Interestingly, his name does not appear in the list for the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame, which seems a bit odd, but when you look at the list, it is not a slight to be considered less than Carbine, Phar Lap and Sunline, but it would seem that at some point in the future, Galilee would also be recognised.