Wise Men Say  Photo:

Legends of the Great Northern

30 September 2021

A race stepped in history and prestige, the Great Northern Steeplechase has long been the benchmark for jumps racing success. Traditionally run over 6,400m at Ellerslie Racecourse, the Great Northern Steeplechase is New Zealand’s richest steeplechase race. The list of victors is impressive, with the names of many jumps racings greats gracing the honour roll. 


The first horse to achieve a Great Northern Steeplechase three-peat, Hunterville was victorious in three successive years (1983, 1984 and 1985). In 1985, Hunterville was crowned the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders Horse of the Year, joining an elite group of horses including Balmerino, La Mer and Kiwi.

Golden Flare

The first horse in New Zealand Racing history to complete the Auckland Racing Club Great Northern- McGregor Grant Steeplechase double, Golden Flare and his jockey Clayton Chipperfield were unstoppable in 2002 and 2003. Trainer Raylene Whiteside and Golden Flare could often be found at Karioitahi Beach, with Whiteside quoted saying salt water is the world’s greatest remedy for racehorses’ legs.  


In 2010, Hypnotize doubled the number of horses to succeed three times in the race, with previous wins in 2007 and 2008. The famous and demanding Ellerslie hill seemed to bring out the best in Hypnotize with the gelding winning six of his 11 starts on the course and placing in a further three.

Wise Men Say

Wise Men Say’s victory in 2017 produced the slowest time in the race’s history, with the gelding completing the course in grueling Heavy 11 conditions in 9 minutes and 31 seconds. Two years later and Wise Men Say was back in the Ellerslie winner’s circle, claiming a second Great Northern and completing the course almost one minute quicker (and in the same Heavy 11 conditions!).  

Due to current COVID-19 restrictions in Auckland, the Great Northern Steeplechase will be run at Te Aroha on Sunday, 3 October behind closed doors. We wish this year’s contenders the best of luck and safe travels!

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