(Loosen Up (USA)-Better Fantasy by Better Boy (IRE))
The world champion is often applied to racehorses but seldom deserved. However in the case of Japan Cup winner Better Loosen Up it is a fitting accolade. Few better horses looked through a bridle in the 20th century in Australia than this tough campaigner who died on March 15, 2016 at Living Legends in Victoria, aged 30.
Bred by Berrigan grain merchant Howard Martin and his wife Jan, Better Loosen Up won 17 races (eight Gr.1) and $4.77m and was Australia’s Horse of the Year in 1991. He was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2004 and trainer David Hayes marked his passing by noting, “RIP Better Loosen Up, my best and favourite horse, a true champion. Living legends did an incredible job of looking after him in retirement”.
Raced by L. and G. Theodore, Mrs L. Koumi, L. Fink and G., J. and I. Farrah and trained by Les Theodore at two to win a maiden at Bendigo from four starts, he was transferred to the Randwick stables of Bart Cummings at three where he won four races and was runner-up in the Canterbury Guineas. The small bay gelding had a new trainer at four and in the care of Colin Hayes he won three Gr.1 races in succession late in 1989, the Honda Stakes, Winfield Stakes and Railway Stakes. He won the Blamey (beating Super Impose and Vo Rogue) and the Segenhoe Stakes in the New Year before running second to Vo Rogue in the Australian Cup.
Colin Hayes retired at the end of the 1989-90 season and Better Loosen Up resumed in the care of his son David. After a first-up loss in the Liston Stakes he won, in succession, the Feehan Stakes, Turnbull Stakes, Cox Plate (in record time), Mackinnon Stakes (when his trainer had six Gr.1 winners on a single day) and then became the first (and only) Australian-trained horse to win the Japan Cup. He returned in the New Year to collect a Blamey Stakes and an Australian Cup (defeating Vo Rogue by 5.5 lengths).
A tendon injury restricted his career to just 12 further starts at six and seven, his best effort coming when runner-up to Super Impose in the Cox Plate of 1992, gaining second after a successful protest against Let’s Elope. He retired in February 1993 with 17 wins and 12 placings in 45 starts.
Born on August 29, 1985, he was by the French Listed winner Loosen Up (USA) (Never Bend-Dancing Hostess by Sword Dancer) who stood at Les Rhodes’ Riverside Stud at Corowa. While he is the best of his sire’s 211 winners, others included Magic Music, Sauna (a Gr.3 winner in Australia and the US and Gr.1 second), Lomas and All Imagination (a grandaughter of Better Fantasy).
Better Fantasy (Better Boy-Pure Fantasy by Niksar (FR)-Alecon by Dalray (NZ), family 7d) won five races from 1400m-2400m and left eight winners from 14 foals (13 raced). Her grandaughter Flying Ruby (Rubiton-Parkhill’s Flyer by Brigand), a mare inbred 3mx3f to Better Boy, won six races to Listed level and was Gr.3 placed and is the dam of this season’s talented juvenile Flying Artie (Artie Schiller (USA)).