One of the most underrated thoroughbreds in Australian racing history, Lonhro was an out-and-out champion.
Respected by those in the industry but not entirely known by non-racing people, Lonhro set the track alight in the 2000’s and his record is truly amazing. He won 26 of his 35 starts and considering the level of opposition he was facing, it’s an outstanding record.
“The Black Flash” went to stud following his career and sired many top thoroughbreds, including Mental, Bounding and champion thoroughbred, Pierro.
The storied career of Lonhro started with a second placing at Rosehill but it wasn’t long before he broke through. He won second-up at Rosehill before winning the Blue Diamond Prelude at Caulfield.
His first crack at the top level came in the Blue Diamond Stakes where he finished a credible fourth behind True Jewels. He followed it up with a third in the Missile Stakes at Rosehill before being set for his three-year-old campaign.
Lonhro’s three-year-old season was perfect. He won all seven races he contended, which included the Warwick Stakes, Stan Fox Stakes and Hobartville Stakes. However, it was his win in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas that set him apart.
His four-year-old season was very busy, with 13 runs from August to May. He mixed his form to start the season, with wins coming in the Missile Stakes and Chelmsford Stakes, but he suffered defeats in the Warwick Stakes and George Main.
His second Group 1 victory came in the 2002 Caulfield Stakes when beating Sunline, before running sixth in the Cox Plate behind Northerly. Punters were disappointed at that result, but it was a cracking field and he rebounded in fine fashion.
Lonhro won his next five starts and three of those came at the highest level. He won the MacKinnon Stakes, Chipping Norton Stakes and George Ryder Stakes. A fourth in the Doncaster Handicap would follow before winning the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes to close out the season.
With a stud career beckoning, many believed he wouldn’t do much racing in his five-year-old season. However, John Hawkes and the ownership team had other ideas. He would have 11 runs during the 2003/2004 season and he only suffered defeat in two of those starts.
His Group 1 wins came in the George Main Stakes, Caulfield Stakes, C. F. Orr Stakes, Australian Cup, and the George Ryder Stakes.
Lonhro was to end his career in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick in April 2004. It wasn’t to be a fairytale finish as he ran second behind Grand Armee.
His final season was made even more impressive in that he carried 58kg for all 11 races.
The team behind Lonhro
Lonhro was bred and owned by Woodlands Stud, and he was bred to be a superstar. The son of Octagonal x. Shadea had good breeding lines and it translated onto the track.
He was trained by John Hawkes and although he had many jockeys throughout his career, it was Darren Beadman who partnered him throughout most of his life.
Interestingly, Lonhro was named after the stock exchange code for London Rhodesian Mining and Land Company, LONRHO. His name was intentionally misspelt.
Life after racing for Lonhro
Lonhro became one of the most decorated stallions in recent history. He has sired 12 Group 1 winners and counting.
His most famous progeny is Pierro, which won five Group 1 races, including the Golden Slipper, George Ryder Stakes and the Champagne Stakes.
Other notable foals included Randwick Guineas winner, Kementari, and 2016 Blue Diamond Stakes winner, Lyre.
Lonhro’s Achievements and Statistics
Lonhro won the Australian Racehorse of the Year in 2004, having previous been awarded Champion 3YO in 2002.
In 2004, he was honoured as World Champion Miler and he entered the Australian Horse Racing Fall of Fame in 2014.
A winner of 11 Group 1 races, Lonhro was a model of consistency. He only ever lost two consecutive races once, which came during his first season. His winning strike rate of 74% is the highest of any Australian champion thoroughbred, including Phar Lap, Kingston Town, and Tulloch.
Race record: 26 wins from 35 starts
Career earnings: $5,790,510
Group 1 wins: 11
Breeding: Octagonal x. Shadea
Trainer: John Hawkes
Jockey: Darren Beadman
Breeders: Woodlands Stud
Owners: Woodlands Stud
Years active: 2000-2004