Headed into Melbourne under a cloudy sky hoping the rain would hold off until lunchtime. Our destination was Woodlands, home of Living Legends.
We arrived early enough to have a look around the old homestead, a timber kit home shipped over from London in 1843 by the Greene family. Then it was time for a tour of the star attractions.
Living Legends is where champion racehorses are retired to once their racing days are over. We did a round of the paddocks, getting to pat and feed everyone along the way. First up was Paris Lane and Chief De Beers, the oldest horses at 26 and 25 years old. After Chief's racing career finished he went on to work as a police horse for ten years. All the horses at Legends still do the odd job, they attend the Melbourne Cup parade and various race meets.
Next were Zipping and Efficient. Zipping was quite happy to come over for a pat, but Efficient (2007 Melbourne Cup winner) is a bit grumpy and kept his distance. In the next paddock were Silent Witness and Good Ba Ba. Silent Witness or 'Silly' was a champion in Hong Kong and a lot of Chinese tourists make the journey to Melbourne to see him especially.
Next we met Maluckyday and his brother Super Impressive. 'Lucky' is the boss and was very determined not to share any carrots with his brother. California Memory also shares a paddock with them. He is relatively new to Legends and did eventually wander over to say hi.
Then we moved on to meet Apache Cat and Rogan Josh (1999 Melbourne Cup winner). 'Patch' is a big horse and a bit cheeky, whereas 'Josh' is a real sweetie.
Next was the horse I really wanted to meet, the one and only Might and Power. His 1997 Caulfield Cup win, by seven and a half lengths and in record time, is the race that I still remember being awed by as a kid, and then my brother and I insisted that Mum put some money on him to win the Melbourne Cup, which he did by a nose. He also went on to win the 1998 Cox Plate, again in record time. He retired as a six-year-old due to injury. 'Bobby' is now 23 years old and doesn't look a day over 7. He's hot stuff and he knows it. We got to spend a bit of time with him, feeding him and getting some photos.
Then we met Lucky Nine, or 'Paddy', who has only been at Legends for two weeks and looked tip top as he is still race fit.
Last of all we met Brew (2000 Melbourne Cup winner) and Fields of Omagh. 'Foo' is the reason Living Legends exists. He ran his last race as a nine-year-old, the 2006 Cox Plate. His owners had decided to retire him immediately after the race, whatever the outcome. Foo finished his career in fairy tale fashion by winning the race. His owners set up Living Legends for his retirement and it has gone on from there, providing a home for former champions from all over the world. It's a nice place for them to live out their days with the dignity and respect they deserve.