Doiran wins his fourth Great Eastern
There certainly wasn't anybody in the Punters.com.au office that was around when Doiran was getting about at Oakbank but his place in history can't be ignored. He is a four-time winner of the Great Eastern Steeplechase, having gone back-to-back in 1918-19 before winning his third in 1922. He won his fourth the following year carrying nearly 79.5kg ????. No other has been able to emulate his amazing feat.
Double hat-trick for Wheeler and Scott
In the mid 1990s, the trainer-jockey pairing of John Wheeler and Brett Scott dominated the Great Eastern, with the duo at one stage combining for four on the bounce. Together they won with Tyrolia in 1994, two straight with Light Hands in 1995-96 before completing a double hat-trick with Foxboy in '97. They later combined for a fifth Great Eastern with St Steven in 2001. Oakbank legend Wheeler, a New Zealander, has also won the race another four times with other jockeys.
Thirteen a lucky number for Eric Musgrove
It's hard to fathom that a single trainer could win a race 13 times (even if the great Bart Cummings did win 12 Melbourne Cups). But that is exactly what Eric Musgrove has managed in the Von Doussa Steeplechase, with Thubiaan giving him the most recent of those when he defeated star jumper Lord Of The Song in 2015.
Note: The Von Doussa, which traditionally took place on Easter Saturday, is now run at a Prelude meeting a couple of weeks before. The Great Eastern Steeplechase, which traditionally took place on Easter Monday, is now run on Easter Saturday.
Andrea Leek's groundbreaking carnival
Jockey Andrea Leek broke new ground in 2004 when she became the first woman to win not only the Von Doussa Steeplechase but also the Great Eastern Steeplechase. In what was a massive carnival for Leek, she won the Von Doussa on Easter Saturday aboard Boxter Blue - a gelding trained by husband John Leek - before winning the Great Eastern on the same horse two days later.
Bargain buy wins the Great Eastern
A bargain buy tale is hard to beat and River Amos was certainly that. After he failed to show much in flat races, John Leek reportedly picked him up for just $490 before the gelding outperformed his price tag when winning the 1988 Great Eastern. In a sad turn of events, River Amos died following a fall at Oakbank a couple of years later.
Zed Em gives Pateman his fifth Great Eastern
Just last year, gun Patrick Payne-trained jumper Zed Em gave champion jumps jockey Steve Pateman his fifth Great Eastern Steeplechase win when becoming the first horse since Toubouggie Nights in 2012 to land the Von Doussa-Great Eastern double. It was also Payne's fourth win in the race, which is obviously nothing to sneeze at. "What a special race it is. South Australia is lucky to have it." Pateman said following the memorable victory. This Saturday, Zed Em, Pateman and Payne will be trying to repeat the feat as they again head into the race on the back of Von Doussa success.
A drought-breaking win for the locals
Heading into the Great Eastern of 2017, it had been a long time between drinks for the locals. A South Australian-trained horse hadn't won the event since 2003, but before Grant Young-trained gelding Spying On You stepped up to break the drought. It was Grant Young's first Great Eastern win as a trainer and it came 17 years after he won the race as a jockey on the David Halliday-trained Bruskin. “This holds a special place in my heart. Jumps racing made me the person I am today ... I can win most races but I reckon that'd top all of them," a clearly thrilled Young said following the win. Both Young and Spying On You will be chasing another victory in the famed race when the galloper lines up on Saturday off an encouraging runner-up finish behind Zed Em last start in the Von Doussa.