Race of the Century (Horse racing)
The Race of the Century was the name given to a thoroughbred horse race in Australia between two great racehorses in the 1980s. It was the encounter between Our Waverley Star and Bonecrusher in the 1986 edition of the W.S. Cox Plate. The two horses came to the race in outstanding form. Bonecrusher had won the Tancred, the AJC Derby, the Underwood, and the Caulfield Stakes, while Our Waverley Star had won almost all his races in New Zealand. The clash was highly anticipated, and the two horses cleared the rest of the field. Each put its nose in front, with Our Waverley Star looking likely to win midway down the straight, but Bonecrusher came again to prevail by a neck on the post.
The W.S. Cox Plate, held annually at Melbourne's Moonee Valley racecourse, is one of the most significant races on the Australian calendar. Run at weight-for-age, the race had been won by some of the greats of the Australian turf since its inception in 1922, such as Phar Lap, Tulloch, and Kingston Town, but the epic contest in 1986 would raise the profile of the race, which in the general public's eyes may be regarded as secondary to the Melbourne Cup.
The Cox Plate of 1986 is one of the most replayed versions of the running of the event featuring an epic encounter between New Zealand horses Our Waverley Star (Lance O'Sullivan) and Bonecrusher (Gary Stewart). Melbourne commentator Bill Collins' call of the great battle is one of racing's finest. The two horses drew clear of their rivals 800m from the finish and engaged in a two-horse dogfight down the straight. Bonecrusher won by a neck over Our Waverley Star in a race which will always be rememered.
When Gary Stewart took off on Bonecrusher, and Lance O'Sullivan went with him, near the 800 metres, it was on. By the time they had the post in sight, it was like round 13 in Marciano versus Walcott, Philadelphia, 1952. Bonecrusher, whose name even had a pugilistic ring to it, won by a neck, and would never be forgotten. Neither would Our Waverley Star.
"Here come the New Zealanders . . . have they gone too early? . . . And Bonecrusher races into equine immortality . . . the crowd is roaring its head off." -racecaller Collins