Racing Superstar of the 1970s
Ngawyni’s career began in 1974 when he won Perth’s opening two year old event at Belmont Park. The Initial Stakes was a 900m race, and despite being in last place at the 200m, Ngawyni flew home to finish in first place. Jockey Graeme Webster knew then he was on a champion.
Ngawyni was bred in Capel to be a 1200m specialist. However, he also had the stamina required for long distance. His breeder Rowley Roberts could not explain it. Just weeks before he was set to run in the WA Derby of 1975, Roberts called trainer John Davison and pleaded with him to take Ngawyni out of the race. “He is only bred to sprint and I was sure they were making a big mistake,” he said. Ngawyni was eased down to win by three and a half lengths and Roberts said, “There is just no logical reason for his stamina.” Ngawyni’s win in the Derby was his sixth in succession.
In 1976 the horse was sold to Bart Cummings. In his book, ‘Bart: My Life’, Cummings wrote, “I was particularly proud of my training efforts with Ngawyni. Trained and owned in Western Australia before he came to me, he was bred only to sprint, and lived up to that as a two-year-old. He had shelly feet, far from solid, and I had to train him very carefully, but he won the West Australian Derby as a three-year-old. He won the Australian Cup, the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick and the Moonee Valley Cup among an amazing run of victories as a four-yearold. He also came second to Reckless in the Brisbane Cup, over 2 miles – not bad for a sprinter!”
When Ngawyni ran in the Melvista as a three year old in 1975, he was carrying 64 kilos. The second top weight was carrying 53.5 kilos. Despite the significant extra weight, Ngawyni proved his strength and won the race easily. At the end of his career he had won 19 races from 43 starts and his success strengthened the breeding industry in Western Australia.
The father of Bart Fullerton (Ngawyni’s owner) had a boat in Esperance called the Ngawyni (pronounced Narwinnie), which comes from an indigenous language meaning ‘water witch’. The horse was named after the boat.