Amounis was an immortal champion of the Australian turf, yet on going through his record it appears as if he was beaten very regularly. However he was quite often beaten by the absolute best of the best. Amounis won a Caulfield Cup that was part of the biggest betting coup in the history of the Australian turf, but this was by no means his only good win.
He also won a Cox Plate…
And the Epsom Handicap twice, the second of which with 60.5kg.
He also won a Rosehill Guineas, a Caulfield Stakes to make a total of 33 wins from 79 starts. Overall, if Amounis was awarded retrospective Group One wins, he would sit happily with 17 Group One wins. Of course there were no Group One races back in the late ‘1920s.
However despite being in the Hall of Fame and an all-time immortal champion, the most interest in regards to Amounis comes from his defeats.
Well first lets have a look at the five occasions in which the great gelding had to race Phar Lap.
The two champions first clashed in the Craven Plate in Sydney in October 1929. Phar Lap just beating Amounis in the process. The second meeting was in Melbourne in the St George in Feb 1930; Amounis won and Phar Lap ran 3rd. Interestingly Amounis who was an older horse carried 61.5kg in this race while the three-year-old Phar Lap had just 55.5kg. Race three was in the Chipping Norton in Sydney in April 1930. Phar Lap won this race easily with Amounis back in 2nd. The 4th clash was in the Warwick Stakes and again Amounis won defeating Phar Lap (2nd) and another immortal Nightmarch (3rd).
It was after this race where the connections of Phar Lap and of Amounis got together and realized if they stopped running against each other they could plan a coup and plan a coup they did in the form of the famous Cups double of 1930 (in the search bit over on the right of this website, type in ‘Fourteen and a half Million’ for the full story about this betting coup).
At this stage Phar Lap and Amounis were two all after four encounters. The final race between the two (in which they both placed) was in the Mackinnon on 1 November 1930, the Saturday before Phar Lap won the Melbourne Cup. Phar Lap won this race thus giving him a 3 / 2 edge over Amounis.
So there is three races that Amounis would have won had it not been for a fellow immortal champion. And these are not the only three. Other best of the best champions Gothic, Nightmarch and Limerick all on multiple occasions beat Amounis into 2nd.
Gothic was one of the greatest milers Australia has ever seen and his absence from the Australian racing hall of fame in an absolute outrage. He won the Newmarket twice (one of only four two time winners) and also won plenty of now Group One races at around the 2000m. Gothic defeated Amounis in the 1928 C.M. Lloyd Stakes in Melbourne, in the Caulfield Stakes in 1928, the Melbourne Stakes in 1928 and the Linlithgow Stakes in 1929. All these races are now Group One races. There is another four Group One races that Amounis would have won had it not been a complete era of champions.
Then there is Limerick. This boy also deserves to be in the Hall of Fame but is not. He was one of the best WFA horses of all-time and at one stage over 26 races won 22 and ran 2nd in four. He beat Amounis in the 1927 Warwick Stakes in Sydney, in the 1927 Hill Stakes in Sydney (Gothic also placed in this race thus making it an immortal trifecta).
Limerick also beat Amounis in the 1928 Rawson Stakes. There is another three Group One races that Amounis would have won had it not been for the presence of regular immortal champions.
Then there is the 1930 Autumn Stakes. On this day in Sydney it was Nightmarch who beat Amounis. Here is another retrospective Group One that Amounis just missed out on due to the presence of a 4th generational immortal champion. Nightmarch is in the Hall of Fame and he was not as good as Limerick or Gothic but he did beat Phar Lap (when Big Red was a three-year-old) in a Melbourne Cup.
So what have we learnt? We the first thing is that if it was not for Phar Lap, Gothic, Nightmarch and Limerick, Amounis would have won another 12 feature races, thus giving him 29 Group One wins in today’s climate. That is almost twice as many as Black Caviar!
The second lesson is that the 1920s was truly an era of immortal champions. Just the five horses that are mentioned in this story – Phar Lap, Nightmarch, Amounis, Limerick and Gothic, well they all fit comfortably into the top fifty of all time and there are plenty of other champions that applied their trade in the ‘1920s also. Limerick and Gothic would beat any horse currently in training in Australia at any distance (up to 2000m) comfortably. The other three are of course in the Hall of Fame.
Good luck and stay tuned.