Bonecrusher (horse)

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Sire Pag-Asa
Grandsire Kaoru Star
Dam Imitation
Damsire Oakville
Sex Gelding
Foaled 1982
Country New Zealand
Colour Chestnut
Breeder Bill Punch
Owner Peter J. Mitchell
Trainer Frank Ritchie
Record 44: 18-5-12
Earnings NZ$674,225 & A$1,679,495
Major wins
Bayer Classic (1985)
New Zealand Derby (1985)
Air New Zealand Stakes (1986 & 1988)
Tancred Stakes (1986)
Australian Derby (1986)
Caulfield Stakes (1986)
Cox Plate (1986)
Underwood Stakes (1986)
Australian Cup (1987)
Australian Horse of the Year (1987)
Last updated on 26 June 2007

Bonecrusher (17 September 1982 – 10 June 2015) was a champion New Zealand Thoroughbred racehorse who was widely admired in both Australia and New Zealand.

Bred by Bill Punch, his dam's sire was a son of a French champion, Tantieme.[1] Bonecrusher was purchased by Peter Mitchell for just NZ$3,250 at the Waikato Yearling Sales, and was trained by Frank Ritchie. Peter also bought Bonecrusher's full brother. A chestnut, Bonecrusher was nicknamed Big Red - the same name as the champions Man o' War, Secretariat and Phar Lap.

Racing life[edit]

Bonecrusher raced 44 times for 18 wins, five seconds and 12 thirds, and prizemoney of NZ$674,225 and A$1,679,495.[2] He was the first New Zealand horse to win over NZ$1 million in prize money.[3] Bonecrusher won four Group One races in New Zealand, including the New Zealand Derby, and six Group One races in Australia, including the AJC Derby, the Tancred Stakes, the Cox Plate, and the Australian Cup.[2]

In the 1986 Cox Plate, Bonecrusher prevailed in the "Race of the Century" with another New Zealand champion, (Our) Waverley Star. Later that year, Bonecrusher was the pre-post favourite against some of the world's best racehorses in the Japan Cup but contracted a virus in Tokyo, nearly lost his life, and had to withdraw from the race.

In the new year, Bonecrusher recovered from his illness, won the Australian Cup, and was named horse of the year in New Zealand and Australia for the 1986-1987 season. He was the first horse to be awarded both titles.[4]

Bonecrusher continued to campaign at five, six, and seven years of age, and won three races in New Zealand, but was unable to reach his previous heights in Australia. He appeared at racetracks throughout New Zealand and Australia over the years.


After retirement Bonecrusher was cared for by his owner, Peter Mitchell, on a property in Takanini.[4] In retirement, he was a guest of the Moonee Valley Racing Club. His last public appearance was Derby Day in 2003.[3] Bonecrusher was euthanised in June 2015 after contracting laminitis.[5]

Bonecrusher's strapper, Shaune Ritchie, is now a trainer based in Cambridge and trained Magic Cape, the winner of the 2006 New Zealand 2000 Guineas and runner-up in the 2007 Kelt Capital Stakes, and 2010 New Zealand Derby winner Military Move.

Bonecrusher song[edit]

In October 1986, Bonecrusher's achievements on the track became the inspiration for a song released by fellow Ellerslie locals, Wayne Cann, Gordon Evans and John Scull. Titled "Tribute to a Champion", the song promoted Bonecrusher as a New Zealand Sports Ambassador, and featured lyrics which stated that he could be "the greatest since Phar Lap" and named him as the "pride of Ellerslie".[3] While not available in stores, fans were asked to send orders through the "Bonecrusher Song Child Cancer Appeal", which donated NZ$1 from each sale to the child cancer foundation.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bonecrusher". Online Thoroughbred Database. Retrieved 20 August 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Racing Victoria Limited. "Bonecrusher Race Record". Retrieved 20 August 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Bonecrusher's Scrapbook". Retrieved 20 August 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "20 Years on and Bonecrusher Still Going Strong". Retrieved 20 August 2010. 
  5. ^ Manley, Michael. "Bonecrusher dies: Legend of racing and winner of famous 1986 Cox Plate dies aged 32". Fox Sports News. Retrieved 11 June 2015. 

External links[edit]