Aquanita, the jet-black (officially brown or black) racehorse, emerged as the shining star of his generation, hailing from Western Australia. During the early stages of his career, while racing in his home state, he exhibited near-invincibility and became a beloved local hero. However, his move to the eastern states of Australia solidified his reputation as one of the country’s premier racehorses in the early 1960s.
Born at Perringa Stud, located south of Perth, in 1956, Aquanita was sired by the British import Wateringbury. His dam, the locally-bred Reinita, was considered a ‘non stud book mare’ due to an uncertain ancestor in her pedigree, tracing back twelve generations to a ‘colonial mare.’ This classification made Aquanita ineligible for classic races like the Sires Produce, Derby, or St Leger, which contributed to his modest sale at the 1958 Perth yearling sales. However, for his new owners, Bill and Jack Thomas, he proved to be a remarkable bargain.
Under the training of Reg Treffone, Aquanita secured nine victories in Perth at the ages of two and three, culminating in his triumph in the 1959 Railway Stakes.
Impressed by his performance, his owners decided to transfer him to trainer Roy Shaw in Melbourne. Aquanita made an immediate impact, winning the prestigious George Adams Handicap at Flemington during the 1960 VRC spring carnival, defeating Sky High. In 1961, he added more victories to his impressive record, notably claiming the Doomben Ten Thousand in Brisbane and a second George Adams Handicap.
In 1962, Aquanita achieved nearly invincible status in weight-for-age races in Sydney and Melbourne. His impressive list of victories included the Underwood and Turnbull Stakes, the Cox Plate, and Mackinnon Stakes, as well as a special one-mile race, the VRC Duke of Edinburgh Stakes. Many of these wins featured jockey Frank Moore in the saddle. With Roy Higgins as his rider, Aquanita even triumphed in the VATC Futurity, carrying a weight of 10 stone 7 pounds (66.7 kg).
One of his most notable achievements was his third-place finish in the Melbourne Cup, a grueling distance for the horse, where he crossed the line behind Even Stevens and Comicquita. He continued to secure wins in 1963 before eventually retiring to stud in Western Australia after accumulating 28 career victories. His pedigree limitations restricted his breeding opportunities, but he still managed to sire some winners.
Roy Shaw, Aquanita’s trainer, once described him as a ‘tigerish villain’ to the press, though in private, stronger words were occasionally used. Nevertheless, Aquanita’s redeeming feature was undoubtedly his status as a champion racehorse.
Aquanita’s remarkable racing career earned him a well-deserved place in the WA Racing Hall of Fame in 2010, cementing his legacy as a true racing legend.