1986 Cox Plate winner Bonecrusher has been humanely euthanized at the age of 33 overnight after he contracted laminitis.
Bonecrusher stamped himself as a horse to watch when he won the 1985 edition of the Bayer Classic, now known as the Levin Classic, as a three-year-old and he went on to take out the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) in the same year.
The son of Pag-Asa recorded his first win at Group 1 level in Australia when he took out the 1986 Tancred Stakes, now known as The BMW, and he went on to win the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) as a short-priced favourite.
Big things were expected of Bonecrusher during the 1986 Spring Racing Carnival and he stamped himself as the dominant favourite for the Cox Plate when he scored an effortless five lengths victory over Black Night in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m).
The Cox Plate was expected to be a match race between Bonecrusher and Kiwi rival Our Waverley Star and the event more than lived up to the hype, with the duo clearing out from the rest of the field at the 600 metre mark.
Our Waverley Star looked as though he had the race won with 100 metres left to run, but Bonecrusher was able to claw his way back to ‘race into equine immortality’ in a Cox Plate that is now known as ‘the race of the century’.
Bonecrusher was sent to Japan for the 1986 edition of the Japan Cup, but he contracted a very nasty virus that almost ended his life and connections were forced to withdraw him from the race.
The exceptional gelding was able to return to winning form in Australia when he scored a thrilling victory over Al Talaq in the Australian Cup and he went on to win the 1988 edition of the New Zealand Stakes, but he was retired in 1989 after losing his form
The families of trainer Frank Ritchie and owner Peter Mitchell were quick to pay credit to the outstanding career of the horse they considered a family statement and they expressed just how much the champion meant to them in a statement released this morning.
“Bonecrusher changed the lives of the Mitchell and Ritchie families,” the statement said.
“In his retirement they wished to give back to the racing public and gladly accepted invitations for him to be seen by his adoring fans.
“He travelled throughout New Zealand and Australia leading out Derbies, the Golden Slipper and Melbourne Cup fields and returning to Moonee Valley, the scene of his greatest triumph.
“He also had a song named after him “Tribute to a Champion”, which raised funds for child cancer and received considerable radio air play in the late 1980’s.
“His final resting place will be at New Zealand’s premier racecourse Ellerslie where a memorial will be erected in his honour.”
Bonecrusher finished his racing career with 18 wins from his 44 race starts and he accumulated over $2 million in prizemoney.