The Greatest Stayers of all Time

By Captain Thomsen on 28 Feb 2019

Phar Lap

Australia differs from other countries in the relative importance it assigns to stayers races, and is the only country with a strong thoroughbred racing culture which celebrates a stayers race as its most prestigious racing event. While there are several major thoroughbred stayers flat races in Europe and the UK, these tend to take a back seat to middle distance and mile races. Meanwhile, in the United States there are no high profile stayers races, with even the longer races equating with European middle distance events.

It is therefore not surprising to find that many of the greatest stayers of all time were raced in Australia, with a relatively small number of European and UK racehorses ranked amongst the greatest stayers in history.

Here's our pick of the greatest stayers of all time.

Phar Lap

One of the most famous racehorses of all time, Phar Lap is best known for his feats in weight for age stayers races. Phar Lap won the Melbourne Cup once, the Cox Plate twice and also claimed a win the AJC Derby. During his career he won 37 of his 51 races, one of the best win ratios of any male racehorse in the history of thoroughbred racing.

Makybe Diva

If the Melbourne Cup is considered the international benchmark for staying thoroughbred racehorses, then Makybe Diva could make claim to being the greatest stayer of all time. She is without a doubt the greatest staying mare of all time, having claimed the Melbourne Cup three times in her career, becoming the first horse to do so.


The Ascot Gold Cup is Europe's premier showcase for staying talent, and this 4,000 meter epic set the scene for the exploits of one of the greatest stayers in history. This was Yeats, who won the Ascot Gold Cup four years in a row. His other major Group 1 wins in stayers races included the Irish St Leger and France's Prix Royal Oak.


Sagaro was a French bred racehorse who distinguished himself by winning major stayers races on both sides of the English channel. He won the Ascot Gold Cup three years in a row in the 1970s, and during this period also picked up a major Group 1 stayers race in France, taking the Prix du Cadran.

The Barb

The Barb is often left off the list of all time great Australian racehorses, but he was one of the 19th century's most formidable stayers. He made his mark on the history books by winning the Sydney Cup twice, once under the weight of 68.5 kilograms. He also picked up a win in the Melbourne Cup, cementing his status as an all-time great.

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The World’s Most Famous Stayers Races