Steve Hart was on deck to snap Vo Rogue with connections and officials after the great horse had led all the way to win the George Main Stakes at Randwick 23/9/89 - his only Sydney win in eight attempts.
Look at the alertness of the great horse as he gazes at something in the distance. On the horse’s right is trainer Vic Rail and behind Vic is part owner Jeff Perry. On the horse’s left is jockey Cyril Small and on Cyril’s left is Peter Capelin QC, a member of the AJC Committee at the time, later to become Chairman.
Nobody can tell you why Vo Rogue wasn’t as good in Sydney. It obviously wasn’t the clockwise way of going, because he was effective on tracks like Eagle Farm and Doomben. He was a totally different horse in Melbourne, where he won sixteen races including two Australian Cups.
He won the C.F.Orr Stakes three times, the Turnbull Stakes twice and a William Reid Stakes on one occasion. Two Australian Cups (2000 metres), and a William Reid (1200) are testimony to his amazing versatility.
Vo Rogue won only six Group 1 races, but under today’s rankings that figure would be much greater. The C.F. Orr Stakes and the Turnbull Stakes are now Group 1 events.
Vo Rogue’s freewheeling, tear away style of racing thrilled race fans around Australia. He would sometimes establish leads of 20-25 lengths and would look vulnerable when the challenges came. More often than not he would get a second wind and stave them off.
His unique racing technique was emulated in later years by Might And Power and Sunline.
Vo Rogue spent his latter years on the Gold Coast property of his jockey Cyril Small and was lovingly cared for by the Small family. The great horse died in 2012, at the good age of 28, leaving behind many memories for his army of fans.
“Vo” raced for almost five years, finishing his career with a record of 83 starts for 26 wins and 23 placings. His prize money tally thirty years ago was $3.1 million dollars.
Cyril, who rode the champ in 22 of his 26 wins is still riding in races. He bobs up occasionally on the Gold Coast or at meetings in northern NSW.
The entire Vo Rogue story was unique. The eccentric, battling trainer who brought the best out of the plainly bred gelding. The Queensland jockey who had an indefinable affinity with his “once in a lifetime horse”. The intensely loyal owners who shunned approaches from other jockeys and trainers.
As a final tribute to a remarkable racehorse I’m going to borrow the words of one of my literary heroes, the gifted writer and racing devotee Les Carlyon.
Of Vo Rogue, Les once said “he had steel in his legs and iron in his soul”.