I’m well aware some find it difficult to fathom that a human can go fanboy on a horse. Really. I get it.
But ask anyone who’s spent time or a few of their hard-earned on a nag and they’ll spin you a yarn about an equine phenomenon who rocked their world at a point in time.
Might and Power was one of those horses for me.
So to wake up this morning and read of his passing was a tough way to start my Easter Sunday.
Gee he was good. He had that front-running style and mid race stamina that just broke the back of the best race fields. Then the fitness, tenacity and sheer will to win that saw him hold on and win. Over and over again. A Hall of Famer with wins from 1200m to 3200m. That’s a serious racehorse.
There were 15 wins and seven runners-up cheques in a 33 race career. But in the big events, that’s when we truly saw the best of the mighty Might and Power.
Seven Group One wins. All across a dominant reign through 1997 and 1998. He won top drawer races in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. A Mercedes Classic at Randwick. A Doomben Cup in Queensland. And a Cox Plate.
That booked a seat at the table of the all-time greats. Might and Power became just the sixth horse to win both the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup. He joined Phar Lap, Nightmarch, Delta, Rising Fast and Saintly in achieving the feat. Only Makybe Diva has done it since.
Even more elite – Might and Power followed Rising Fast as just the second horse to win the Caulfield Cup, Melbourne Cup and Cox Plate treble. That has never been repeated.
It was modest beginnings. Fourth on debut in a mid-week at Canterbury. Then fifth five weeks later at a Sunday meet at Rosehill.
Things started to click. A maiden win in start three and as the distances went up, so did the strike rate. He won back-to-back restricted races and then it took a pretty good one in Intergaze to deny him in the Canterbury Guineas.
He probably should have won the 1997 AJC Derby. He copped a shocking bump from Grandmaster just as his run was starting. A second wind came but he settled for fourth.
That put the writing on the wall. He thumped them by six lengths a week later in the Packer Plate and won on his return from a five month spell to fine tune for the spring.
Still, he snuck under the radar somewhat heading into his first Melbourne start at the 1997 Caulfield Cup. Jim Cassidy took the ride at just 52.5kgs. Might and Power attacked it like he had a feather on his back. He led them throughout, kicking clear as they hit the straight and putting a space on them. He smashed the course record. The margin 7 and a half lengths in one of the most dominant Caulfield Cup wins ever seen.
That incurred a heavy penalty from the handicapper. But despite the 56kg, a week later he was a short-priced favourite and using the same front-running tactics, held on in a photo to deny 1995 winner Doriemus to win the Melbourne Cup.
It was a remarkable campaign. By year’s end he’d been named the world’s champion stayer.
That was a memorable Melbourne Cup. I was living at a University residential College at the time and a group of mates and I had eyes on snagging a big haul on the trifecta.
We’d crunched the numbers and on a student’s budget set about raising the funds to place a mammoth bet. Gotta spend money to make money was the theory. It had averaged five figures over the previous decade. This was a recipe to a final term of good nights on the drink.
So we boxed the bet and came up with a share system. $10 a share. Buy as many as you like. Wrote up the selections in a hand drawn spreadsheet and distributed them across the campus. Just about everyone was in.
Race time came and a group of us crammed into my room. When they crossed the line we heard a roar go through the residences. My mate and I looked at each other. As the architects of the scheme, we knew it wasn’t good. The two favourites ran the quinella. We’d be lucky to get our cash back to cover the bet.
By the time we reimbursed the original stake, profit was running at about 60 cents a share. That wasn’t how we’d planned it. Might and Power can take the blame for that.
What a champion he was. As good as that Caulfield Cup win was, his signature performance might have been the following April when he beat a class field to win the Queen Elizabeth Stakes by more than 10 lengths.
The Cox Plate in October 1998 confirmed what we all knew. Might and Power was a superstar.
Some horses you just never forget. Might and Power was 26.