The Ingham brothers had the same passion for breeding horses as their father, and inherited a broodmare named Valiant Rose, a descendant of an Epsom Derby winner and champion broodmare sire, Bend Or. Valiant Rose laid the foundation for the Ingham’s racing empire which soon became the largest breeding and racing operation in Australia. Their racing empire included Crown Lodge Racing Stables at Warwick Farm Racecourse in Sydney, Woodlands Stud in Denman in the Hunter Valley, and Carbine Lodge at Flemington in Melbourne. In addition, the Inghams run ran racing stables in Brisbane and Adelaide.
Among the most successful horses from Inghams’ stable was the 1996 Australian Horse of the Year, Octagonal. The thoroughbred racehorse won multiple Group One races that included the Cox Plate and Australian Derby. The other horses to bring accolades to the Inghams were Lonhro and Canny Lad, two top stallions that rose to dizzying heights during their racing career. Lonhro as good as his sire, Octagonal with 26 wins, 3 seconds, and 2 thirds from 35 starts. Their first Golden Slipper Stakes came from Sweet Embrace, the Ted Stanton-trained horse that marked the beginning of a successful breeding and racing operation for the Ingham brothers. The Melbourne Cup and Caulfield Cup were the only two races to elude the brothers.
The success with Octagonal and John Hawkes, private trainer for the Ingham brothers, inspired them to establish stables in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Adelaide. Hawkes prepared over 60 Group 1 winners with record earnings that lead to the established of the largest Thoroughbred operation in the country. Jockey Beadman shared the success with the Ingham brothers, riding Octagonal to memorable victories in the mid-1990s. Each season the Ingham racing empire won prize money in excess of $10 million.
On Jack Ingham’s death after a long struggle with leukemia in 2003, Bob Ingham AO, continued to run the empire with other family members, bringing in new breeding stock through some high profile purchases. Both brothers were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004. In addition, they were honored by the government as an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia.
In 2008, Bob Ingham announced his desire to sell Inghams entire racing operation to Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Darley Stud operation for around $500 million. Included in the sale were over 1000 of Australia’s best thoroughbreds. The deal also included two stables at Flemington and Warwick Farm, two stud farms at Jerry’s Plains in the Hunter Valley and Cootamundra, and a pre-training complex at Belmont Park. The announcement was made on the eve of the Magic Millions Yearling Sales in 2008.
Sheikh Mohammed, ruler of Dubai, is the biggest racehorse owner in the world, while the Ingham’s operation was the largest in the southern hemisphere. No matter what, the Inghams will be remembered for their part in making Australian racing what it is today.