A Horse Called Mighty: The Might and Power Story by Helen Thomas – reviewed by Celine
Publisher: Random House Australia
Date of publication: July 2007
Paperback number of pages: 320
A prelude to this review is that I am not a fan of horse racing. There are aspects of the industry that I don’t like, however I have read this book because a friend was given it to read, and after waiting and waiting for that person to read it, I said “Give that book to me to read” because I was curious about it. So here is the review.
Might and Power is a New Zealand bred horse, foaled in 1993, Australian trained and owned, who was named Australian Horse of the Year in 1998 and 1999. As a four-year-old, Might and Power won the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, and returned at five to become only the second horse in the history of Australian racing to win both Cups and the Cox Plate. He also won a number of other weight-for-age races in this period, including the Mercedes Classic, the AJC Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and the Doomben Cup.
Helen Thomas writes this story in a totally captivating way. From beginning to end, the true story of a stoic and powerful thoroughbred horse, who loved to race, even with his un-gainly front leg action, is gripping. This biography of a racehorse is very informative, complete with some marvellous colour photos. It starts with how Might and Power was spotted at a sale and ends with a comparative assessment of how he ranks amongst the racehorses.
There is also a section on the fate of racehorses, including the truth that I don’t like, which is that some horses that don’t win races are sold on, and some of those go to the knackers. Sure, it may be only a small percentage, but what if you were a horse and it happened to you?
Having got that off my chest, I can vouch for the fact that this book is well worth reading if you want to know about the whole story of this mighty horse, or even if you are just curious about the “life of a racehorse.” We’ve come a long way from outback or regional small horse (and other racing) to a huge industry. This book looks a lot at the lineages of horses also, with the fact that Might and Power was a son of Irish mare Benediction and sire Zabeel.
The thoroughbred breed of horse developed in England for racing and jumping. This section of the book may make interesting reading, talking about 3 of the founding thoroughbred horses, the Byerly Turk, the Godolphin Barb and the Darley Arabian. From the progeny of these first stallions and the so called Royal Mares, the important lineages of thoroughbreds arose. For example, the author mentions that in Australasia from 1996 to 2005, the Darley line produced 97 percent of all Group 1 winners, including Might and Power.
Helen Thomas gives honest accounts of real-life conflicts around Might and Power’s story, from interviews, for example whether the trainer Anthony Cummings or the horse’s owner Nick Moraitis first discovered the horse (and to this I say, what matters is that the horse was a racehorse, not who gets the glory for having decided the horse was worth buying and racing).
- 1 The Dream 9
- 2 The Sale 17
- 3 The Split 37
- 4 The New Stable 55
- 5 The Jockeys 73
- 6 The Caulfield Cup 93
- 7 The Melbourne Cup 113
- 8 The Autumn Dream 139
- 9 The Highest Mountain 155
- 10 The Phone Call 189
- 11 The Charity King 213
- 12 The Emergency 231
- 13 The Heartbreak 257
- 14 The Assessment 263
- 15 The Mare and Her Son 291.
The chapter “The Heartbreak” refers to the split from trainer Allan Denham, when after the horse’s emergency veterinarian treatment, the great horse was summarily sent to another location, and not back into the Denham’s care in Wyong, where he had been living for 7 years. The chapter “The Split” refers to the horse being taken away from trainer Anthony Cummings, as a 3 year old, under acrimonious circumstances.
Altogether, this is a wonderful book for anyone interested in horses and in the welfare of the lucky horses in horse racing who are looked after exceedingly well, because they earn millions of dollars, or a lot for their owners. Might and Power became a “charity horse” after he was retired from racing in 1999, due to an injured tendon.
In 2006 he was taken to Living Legends, International Home of Rest for Champion Horses, a 60 hectare haven for retired money-raising racehorses. This is near the Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne, and today he is still there, 26 years old but still fighting fit and mighty. Even today Might and Power is a star attraction at the Living Legends facility.
I’ll end this review with some interesting references.
MORE PHOTOS OF THE BOOK
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