Makybe Diva

Makybe Diva (foaled 21 March 1999) is a British-bred, Australian-trained Thoroughbred racehorse who became the first horse to win the Melbourne Cup on three occasions (2003, 2004, and 2005). In 2005, she also won the Cox Plate.[3] Upon her retirement from racing in November 2005, Makybe Diva was the highest stakes-earner in Australian horse racing history, finishing with winnings of more than A$14 million. She is one of only five horses to have won the Cup more than once, and the only mare among the list of multiple winners. She is also one of only 14 female horses (11 mares and three fillies) to have won the Cup.[5]

Makybe Diva
Makybe Diva in 2010.
SireDesert King
Foaled (1999-03-21) March 21, 1999[1]
United Kingdom
CountryGreat Britain[2]
BreederEmily Krstina Pty Ltd
OwnerTony Šantić
TrainerDavid Hall, Lee Freedman
Record36: 15- 4-3
Major wins
VRC Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2002)
Melbourne Cup (2003, 2004, 2005)[3]
Sydney Cup (2004)
Australian Cup (2005)
The BMW Stakes (2005)
Memsie Stakes (2005)
Turnbull Stakes (2005)
W S Cox Plate (2005)
Australian Racehorse of the Year (2005, 2006)
Australian Champion Stayer (2004, 2005, 2006)
Australian Champion Filly and Mare (2005)
Australian Middle Distance Champion (2006)
Timeform rating: 129[4]
SA Thoroughbred Breeders Horse of the Year (2004, 2005)
Australian Racing Hall of Fame (2006)
Makybe Diva Stakes
Last updated on 24 July 2007

She is by Desert King (a winner of the Irish Derby and Irish 2,000 Guineas) out of Tugela by Riverman (USA). Tugela was also the dam of the Australian stakes-winners, Musket and Valkyrie Diva. Makybe Diva is owned by South Australian tuna fisherman Tony Šantić, who named her after five of his employees - Maureen, Kylie, Belinda, Diane, and Vanessa - by taking the first two letters from each of their names.[6]

Prior to racing

Tony Šantić's bloodstock agent John Foote purchased Tugela in foal to Desert King for 60,000 guineas at the December 1998 Tattersall's Sale. As normally happens with Santic's British-purchased horses, she was taken to Dick Fowlston's Britton House Stud in Somerset to board before being sent on to Australia. Tugela gave birth to a filly at five minutes past midnight on 21 March 1999. The filly was offered for sale at the 1999 Tatts Newmarket foal sale, but did not make the reserve.[7] Named Makybe Diva, the filly remained at Britton House Stud until August 2000, when she and Tugela were shipped to Australia.

Season 2002-2003

Originally trained by David Hall, Makybe Diva made her racetrack debut in late July 2002, as a three-year-old, in a maiden at Benalla, Victoria, and finished fourth. At her next start, two weeks later - and now classed as a four-year-old - Makybe Diva began a six-race winning sequence in a maiden at Wangaratta, which culminated in stakes wins, three months later, in the Werribee Cup (2,000 m) and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2,500 m). The last win was significant in that it qualified the mare for the following year's Melbourne Cup, and allowed her trainer to give her a light autumn campaign, which consisted of just two starts in relatively short races.

Makybe Diva's early career was unusual in that she was unable to contest any major races against horses of her own age, such as the Oaks, because she was foaled in the U.K. to the Northern Hemisphere breeding calendar. This meant that, for Australian racing purposes, where horses "age-up" on 1 August each year, she was bracketed with horses foaled about six months earlier, in the Southern Hemisphere spring.

Season 2003-2004 (Melbourne Cup 1)

Makybe Diva resumed racing in the spring over 1,400 m (0.87 mi), but while being reasonably competitive, she did not win any major races. Second up at her next start in the Group 3 Stock Stakes, she came from behind to finish fourth, beaten by just over two lengths. She then started 5-1 equal favourite in the Group 2 Turnbull Stakes, where she again raced at the back of the field, before finishing fourth, beaten by only one length.

After finishing as a 14-1 outsider in the Caulfield Cup, she began her partnership with Sydney jockey Glen Boss. Coming from near last with 800 m (0.50 mi) to go in the 2400-m race, she finished fourth behind the Lee Freedman-trained Mummify. The first Tuesday in November 2003 was her first Melbourne Cup victory.[3] Starting as an $8 second favourite, Makybe Diva raced at the back of the field until the finishing straight, where jockey Boss picked his way through the field to win by one-and-a-half lengths.

In the autumn of 2004, she resumed over 1400 m (7 furlongs) carrying 59.5 kg followed by a third-place finish in the Group 3 Carlyon Cup. Following this, she was blocked when making a winning run in the Australian Cup before being taken to Sydney, where she placed third in the Ranvet Stakes and The BMW Stakes, both Group 1 races. The Group 1 Sydney Cup over 3200 m (2 mi) was to be her final run for the campaign. Sent out as a $3.50 second favourite, she began off the pace, but ran home to record a win by half a length, becoming the first mare to ever win the Sydney Cup/Melbourne Cup double in the same season, and only the fourth horse to have accomplished the double win.

After the 2003-2004 season, trainer David Hall left to train in Hong Kong, and Makybe Diva was transferred to trainer Lee Freedman, generally regarded as one of Australia's top trainers.[3]

Season 2004-2005 (Melbourne Cup 2)

Her campaign in the spring of 2004 was aimed at winning the Melbourne Cup for a second time. It followed the pattern of her previous cup-winning campaign, though she appeared to be racing better than before. A close second in the Group 2 John F Feehan Stakes over 1,600 m (5,200 ft) at Moonee Valley showed her competitiveness in shorter races. In the 2004 Caulfield Cup, Makybe Diva drew barrier 18 and settled at the back of the field. She was narrowly defeated by Elvstroem, who led all the way.

Makybe Diva was sent out a $3.60 favourite, and won the 2004 Melbourne Cup.[3][8][9] In driving rain, the mare defeated a field featuring multiple Irish St. Leger winner Vinnie Roe, Caulfield Cup winners Mummify and Elvstroem, Mamool from the Godolphin stable, and the 2002 Melbourne Cup winner Media Puzzle.

Resuming racing in February, Makybe Diva put in close finishes behind Elvstroem in both the C F Orr Stakes and St George Stakes, at Caulfield. On 12 March, she won the Australian Cup, a weight for age event over 2,000 m (6,600 ft), and in the process broke the Australian record and set an unofficial world record for 2000 m on turf. She proceeded to win Sydney's most important WFA race, the BMW Stakes, with a last-to-first burst. In April and May, she raced in Japan, where she failed in two starts, the latter of which was over 3,200 m (10,500 ft) in the Group One Tenno Sho (Emperor's Cup).

Makybe Diva was named Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year for the 2004/05 season. Along with this, she was also named Australian Champion Stayer and Australian Champion Filly and Mare. A three-quarter brother to Makybe Diva, by Redoute's Choice, was sold in April 2005 for an Australian record price of $2.5 million. Subsequently, named Musket, the colt won his debut at Canterbury in August 2006, and in 2008 won the Gr.2 Shannon Stakes at Rosehill.

Season 2005-2006 (Melbourne Cup 3)

Resuming racing in August 2005, Makybe Diva won the Group 2 Memsie Stakes first up, before being defeated by a nose in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes at Moonee Valley. Two weeks later, with a run down the outside of the field, Makybe Diva won the Turnbull Stakes over 2,000 m at Flemington. The mare further enhanced her reputation despite being eight horses wide on the home turn, with a comfortable victory in the 2005 Cox Plate, subsequently beating 2006 winner Fields Of Omagh.

Prior to the Melbourne Cup, whether Makybe Diva would start was in doubt, after her connections said she would not run if the track was "too firm". After the VRC decided to water the track, however, she was declared a starter.[10] On 1 November 2005, she made history in winning a record third Melbourne Cup. Settling towards the back of the field, she steadily made ground between runners around the home turn, before hitting the lead with around 300 m to go and holding a comfortable 1-1/4-length margin at the finish. Immediately after the race, trainer Lee Freedman said:

Go find the smallest child on this course, and there will be the only example of a person who will live long enough to see that again.

The win was not without controversy, however. Many, including rival trainers, suggested the track watering amounted to bad sportsmanship employed to give Makybe Diva the best chance to win the race.[11] However, the track condition was upgraded to good straight after the Cup, and the winning time of 3:19.18 was consistent with that rating.

Makybe Diva carried 58 kg during the record third Melbourne Cup, 0.5 kg above the weight-for-age scale for a mare in a 3200m race.[12] The last horse to carry more than weight-for-age and win was Rain Lover, who was 1 kg over when he won his second cup in 1969, with 60.5 kg. In 2005, Makybe Diva broke her own weight-carrying record for a mare of 55.5 kg, which she set in 2004, and became the highest-weighted winner of the Cup since Think Big won his second Melbourne Cup with 58.5 kg in 1975. During the presentation of the Melbourne Cup, owner Tony Šantić announced that Makybe Diva would "retire from racing as of today".[3]

At the end of the 2005-06 season, Makybe Diva was named Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year for the second time, becoming just the third horse to win that accolade more than once. She was also named Australian Champion Stayer, winning this award for the third consecutive year, as well as Australian Champion Middle Distance Racehorse.


In 2006, the inaugural Spirit of Sport Award (for 2005) was given to Makybe Diva and her connections (Lee Freedman, Tony Šantić, and Glen Boss) by the Sport Australia Hall of Fame for her three successive Melbourne Cups. Spirit of Sport Award site

On 4 July 2006, Makybe Diva was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.[13]

As announced on 5 August 2006, Makybe Diva has been honoured at Flemington Racecourse with a life-sized bronze statue, in recognition of her historic three Melbourne Cup wins.[14] A life-sized bronze statue was also erected on the foreshore in Šantić's home town of Port Lincoln, South Australia.

Makybe Diva headed the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities ratings for the 2005-06 official end-of-season assessment. She was given a rating of 124, ahead of Electrocutionist, David Junior. and Heart's Cry on 123. At a ceremony in Melbourne on 5 September 2010, held in conjunction with the Australian Horse of the Year awards, Makybe Diva was officially inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.[15]

Breeding career

On 10 August 2006, it was announced that Makybe Diva would be served by Epsom Derby winner Galileo at Coolmore Stud.

At 3:16 on the morning of 17 August 2007, AEST time, Makybe Diva gave birth to her first foal, named Rockstardom, at Coolmore Stud in the Hunter Valley of NSW. Sold for AU$1.5 million as a yearling in 2009, he won two races in 12 starts, earning $26,115 over three years.[16] Rockstardom was gelded and died of a skull fracture in his stall at C. Waller's stables on 26 July 2013.[17]

Makybe Diva was due to be served by Encosta De Lago in the spring of 2007 until the outbreak of equine influenza forced the stud to be quarantined. Owner Tony Šantić sent the Diva to American champion Fusaichi Pegasus, instead. On 20 August 2008, Makybe gave birth to her second foal, a filly by the aforementioned Fusaichi Pegasus. This filly, later named La Dolce Diva,[18] sold at auction for $1.2 million to trainer Mark Kavanagh of Melbourne.[19] Makybe Diva had a colt on 28 August 2009 by Encosta De Lago and was covered by More Than Ready for the 2010 season, but she did not produce a foal in 2010.[20][21][22]

Makybe Diva gave birth to her fourth foal, a bay colt by Lonhro, on 16 August 2011 in Victoria.[18] Her fifth foal, born in September 2012, is a colt sired by High Chaparral.[23]

Race record

2001-02 season as a three year old
ResultDateRaceVenueDistanceWeight (kg)TimeJockeyWinner/2nd
4th29/7/20023yo MaidenBenalla1200m54.51:13.15F. AlesciBlues Explosion 1st
2002-03 season as a four year old
ResultDateRaceVenueDistanceWeight (kg)TimeJockeyWinner/2nd
Won13/08/2002MaidenWangaratta1600m551:41.70V. HallSing Us a Tune 2nd
Won3/9/2002Class 1Sale1700m551:43.97V. HallZanisa 2nd
Won17/9/2002Class 3Ballarat2000m54.52:07.15V. HallOur Fireman Sam 2nd
Won3/10/2002F & M HandicapFlemington2000m522:02.31B.PrebbleLittle Miss Quick 2nd
Won30/10/2002Werribee CupWerribee2000m51.52:03.24L. CurrieAquiver 2nd
Won9/11/2002Queen Elizabeth StakesFlemington2500m522:35.78L. CurrieSpirit of Westbury 2nd
8th5/4/2003Open HandicapCaulfield1400m55.51:22.52V. HallKaramazou 1st
6th25/4/2003Auckland RC Hcp.Flemington1600m56.51:37.10V. HallOld Man 1st
2003-04 season as a five year old
ResultDateRaceVenueDistanceWeight (kg)TimeJockeyWinner/2nd
4th30/08/2003Noel Rundle WelterCaulfield1400m58.51:25.32L. CurrieC'Est Le Reve 1st
4th13/09/2003W H Stock StakesMoonee Valley1600m55.51:36.81S. ArnoldSunday Joy 1st
4th4/10/2003Turnbull StakesFlemington2000m56.52:04.06L. CurrieStudebaker 1st
4th18/10/2003Caulfield CupCaulfield2400m51.52:25.98G. BossMummify 1st
Won4/11/2003Melbourne CupFlemington3200m513:19.90G. BossShe's Archie 2nd
7th14/2/2004Chester Manifold StakesFlemington1400m59.51:21.12V. HallMr Murphy 1st
3rd28/2/2004Carlyon CupCaulfield1600m56.51:36.24G. BossLa Sirenuse 1st
6th8/3/2004Australian CupFlemington2000m55.52:01.67G. BossLonhro 1st
3rd20/3/2004Ranvet StakesRosehill2000m55.52:03.22G. BossSound Action 1st
3rd3/4/2004The BMW StakesRosehill2400m55.52:25.78G. BossGrand Zulu 1st
Won17/4/2004Sydney CupRandwick3200m55.53:21.21G. BossManawa King 2nd
2004-05 season as a six year old
ResultDateRaceVenueDistanceWeight (kg)TimeJockeyWinner/2nd
4th28/08/2004Memsie StakesCaulfield1400m55.51:23.02L. CurrieSRegal Roller 1st
2nd11/09/2004J F Feehan StakesMoonee Valley1600m55.51:42.50L. CurrieDelzao 1st
7th2/10/2004Turnbull StakesFlemington2000m56.52:00.46D. OliverElvstroem 1st
2nd16/10/2004Caulfield CupCaulfield2400m55.52:31.37G. BossElvstroem 1st
Won2/11/2004Melbourne CupFlemington3200m55.53:28.55G. BossVinnie Roe 2nd
7th12/2/2005C F Orr StakesCaulfield1400m55.51:22.85S. KingElvstroem 1st
2nd26/2/2005St George StakesCaulfield1800m56.51:49.56G. BossElvstroem 1st
Won12/3/2005Australian CupFlemington2000m55.51:58.73G. BossWinning Belle 2nd
Won19/3/2005The BMW StakesRosehill2400m55.52:26.99G. BossGrand Armee 2nd
7th10/4/2005April StakesNakayama2000m592:00.1G. BossSuzuno 1 March
7th1/5/2005Tenno ShoKyoto3200m563:16.5G. BossSuzuka Mambo 1st
2005-06 season as a seven year old.
ResultDateRaceVenueDistanceWeight (kg)TimeJockeyWinner/2nd
Won27/08/2005Memsie StakesCaulfield1400m55.51:26.75S. KingBarely a Moment 2nd
2nd10/09/2005J F Feehan StakesMoonee Valley1600m55.51:37.64G. BossLad of the Manor 1st
Won1/10/2005Turnbull StakesFlemington2000m56.52:01.57G. BossLad of the Manor 2nd
Won22/10/2005Cox PlateMoonee Valley2040m55.52:09.27G. BossLotteria 2nd
Won1/11/2005Melbourne CupFlemington3200m583:19.79G. BossOn a Jeune 2nd


Pedigree of Makybe Diva (GB) (9) (B. m. 1999)
Desert King
B. 1994
b. 1986
Danzig Northern Dancer
Pas de Nom
Razyana His Majesty
Spring Adieu
Ch. 1988
Nureyev Northern Dancer
Dish Dash Bustino
Loose Cover
Br. 1995
Br. 1969
Never Bend Nasrullah
River Lady Prince John
Nile Lily
B. 1986
Roberto Hail to Reason
Katsura Northern Dancer
Noble Fancy (Family: 9-f)
  • Makybe Diva is inbred 4 x 4 x 4 to the stallion Northern Dancer, meaning that Northern Dancer appears three times in the fourth generation of her pedigree. In turn, this means she has six great-great-grandsires instead of eight.

See also


  2. Staff (4 November 2002). "Makybe Diva wins Cup". BBC Sport. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  3. Craig Young (2 November 2005). "Three cheers for the best we'll see". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 20 October 2007.
  4. "Australian Timeform Ratings 2005-2006 Racing Season". Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  5. "Melbourne Cup Winning Fillies and Mares". BackAWinner. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
  6. Lester, Glenn (3 November 2002). "Diva calls the tune and steals the biggest show in town". Melbourne: The Age.
  7. Tonkes, Peter (14 March 2005). "Legend of Makybe Diva Grows". Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  8. Daniel Ziffer (2 November 2005). "The race that started a nation partying". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 20 October 2007.
  9. Andrew Clark (2 November 2005). "Sydney racegoers sip to champion's success". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 20 October 2007.
  10. "Makybe Diva confirmed starter for Melbourne Cup". The New Zealand Herald. AAP. 1 November 2005. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  11. "Melbourne Cup controversy". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2 November 2005. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  13. "The Diva joins racing's greats". Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  14. Photo of the statue Makybe Diva at Flemington Racecourse - The Weekly Review
  15. "Makybe Diva officially a legend". 6 September 2010. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  16. Staff. "Rockstardom (AUS)". Racing and sports. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  17. Staff. "Makybe Diva's first foal-Rockstardom". Racing and sports. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  18. Roots, Chris (17 August 2011). "Diva gives birth to colt". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  19. Harvey, Virginia, Thoroughbreds, The Land newspaper, 15 April 2010, p. 60, Rural Press
  20. "Latest News: Sibling to a Superstar". Makybe News. Retrieved 21 November 2010.
  21. The Daily Telegraph. "Makybe Diva has third foal ." Archived 14 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine 1 September 2009.
  22. "Latest News: DOUBLE CELEBRATION FOR THE MAKYBE "ROYAL FAMILY"". Makybe News. Retrieved 21 November 2010.
  23. Manly, Michael (28 September 2012). "Full sister to Makybe Diva arrives while queen of the cups gives birth to fifth foal". Herald Sun. Retrieved 28 November 2012.

Further reading

  • Marshallsea, Trevor (2019). Makybe Diva. Sydney: ABC Books. ISBN 9780733340376.

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