Fancy having two two of the best 15 horses Australia has ever seen, not just race against each other and finish in the top three together on 13 occasions! That is what happened in the early ‘1960s when all of Sydney and eventually Melbourne were hooked on the rivalry between Wenona Girl and Sky High. Sky High was the immaculately bred colt by Star Kingdom out of Flight’s Daughter who incidentally was Flight’s Daughter! Wenona Girl was by the respected sire Wilkes out of a mare named Golden Chariot. The pair may have raced each other more than the 13 times about to be detailed, but they finished in the top three together on these about-to-be-discussed 13 occasions. Overall Wenona Girl raced 68 times for 27 wins while Sky High raced 55 times for 29 wins. Sky High was the full brother to Skyline who won a Golden Slipper and AJC Derby. The colt also sired four stakes winners in Australia and a few good horses in America. At stud Wenona Girl gave birth to seven foals of whom four were winners including the brilliant Special Girl (by Todman). Enjoy the tale of the tape…
Clash 1 – Golden Slipper 23/6/1960.
Sky High was the 4-7 favourite ($1.57) whereas Wenona Girl was 5-2 ($3.50). Sky High bolted in. There were just five runners.
Clash 2 – Sires’ 9/4/1960
Two weeks later Wenona Girl squared the ledger and made it one all from two races. She won by half a length at 6-1 from Sky High who ran second at 2-11 ($1.18).
Clash 3 – Hobartville Stakes 20/8/1960
As three-year-olds in three Classic races, Wenona Girl beat Sky High in each race. In the Hobartville the mare was 4-1 and Sky High was around evens. Wenona Girl won by a long head.
Clash 4 – Canterbury Guineas 3/9/1960
Wenona was at 9-4 ($3.25) and Sky High was at 7-4 ($2.75) but they both were beaten by $4 chance and great horse named Persian Lyric. This was the first of three occasions when the two champions both ran a place but neither won.
Clash 5. Rosehill Guineas 17/9/1960
Persian Lyric was odds on to win the Rosehill Guineas after his great win in the Canterbury Guineas…
However the poor punters, had nothing more than a false favourite. Fancy a good horse being odds on in a race that contained two immortal champions. In the Rosehill Guineas Wenona Girl was 9-4 ($3.25) and Sky High was 4-1. Wenona Girl won by three-quarters of a length with Sky High back in second and Persian Lyric in third.
Clash 6 – Canterbury Stakes 12/8/1961
Back as four-year-olds, the two champions would only have on race during this season. The race was the Canterbury Stakes and it would be the start of four in a row for Sky High. In the Canterbury Stakes of 1961, The pair were the 5-4 equal favourites ($2.25) and Sky High won easily by a length and a half.
Clash 7 – Canterbury Stakes 4/8/1962
This race was a year after the previous, but the result was the same with Sky High beating Wenona Girl in the ’62 Canterbury Stakes by half a length. Sky High was the 8-11 ($1.72) favourite while Wenona Girl was 2-1. It appeared that Sky High had come back the better older horse, but that is not entirely accurate.
Clash 8 – Warwick Stakes 18/8/1962
Sky High jumped as the odds on fav and won accordingly. Wenona Gril was 9-2 ($5.50) and was well beaten back in third. Sky High now had the advantage over the grand mare, but this advantage would not last forever.
Clash 9 – Sunday Telegraph Handicap 22/9/1962
For some reason both horses ran in this race. Sky High had 60.5kg and was the odds on favourite. Wenona Girl had just 55.5kg and 15-1. Something does not make sense with this market, but the bookies got it right because Sky High again bolted in with Wenona Girl two lengths back in second place. This was four in a row for Sky High over the mare, but he would not finish in front of her again until the following year.
Clash 10 – Lightening Stakes 23/2/1962
In the 1000m Classic down the Flemington straight, the better sprinter Wenona Girl started at 4-1 while the better miler Sky High started as the even money favourite. Wenona Girl won by a length and this was one of her best ever wins.
Clash 11 – Futurity Stakes 9/3/1963
Two weeks after the Lightening, Sky High and Wenona Girl fought out the finish in the Futurity. Sky High despite being on the back end of some Wenona Girl hidings of late, again started the even money favourite while Wenona Girl jumped at 7-2 ($4.50) and won by four lengths!
Clash 12 – Canterbury Stakes 10/8/1963
For the third year in a row the two immortal champions clashed in the Canterbury Stakes. But they both were thrashed by a horse named Kevejon. Sky High was odds on at 8-11 while Wenona was at 2-1. They were starting to get old and this was the second of three races were they both finished in the top three but neither was to win.
Clash 13 – Hill Stakes 14/9/1963
This time the two champions were beaten into second and third by a horse named Toi Port. Sky High ran second at 7-2 ($4.50) while Wenona ran third at 4-1.
Out of 13 races, Sky High finished in front of Wenona Girl seven times and Wenona finished in front of Sky High six times. As far as wins goes… five all!
In the 13 races, Sky High jumped at just under even money on average (around $1.93). Wenona Girl jumped at an average of around 3-1 ($4) which looks exceptional value!
Wenona Girl, when she beat Sky High, beat him by an average of 1.35 lengths in five wins. Sky High beat Wenona Girl by an average of 1.2 lengths in five wins.
You could say it was a pretty close rivalry.
It even made the news when they trialled together.
Good luck and stay tuned.