In an increasingly competitive marketplace, Melbourne-based boutique trainer Grahame Begg continues to punch well above his weight. A move to Mornington following a two-year hiatus from the profession has proved fruitful for Begg who is creating waves in the Victorian training ranks with his small but mighty team.

• From just 59 horses on his books, Grahame Begg has trained 11 stakes winners this season from seven different horses.
• He is Victoria’s leading metropolitan trainer by winning strike rate (23 per cent).
• Fifty per cent of Begg’s winners this season have occurred at metropolitan level or better.
• He has trained stakes winners from 1000 metres to 2800 metres and with horses aged two years old to seven years old.


A season to remember

Saddling up 39 winners this season, Begg has already surpassed his five-year high which came in the 2020/21 season with 32 winners from 215 starters. Not only has he prepared more winners than previous seasons, he is producing them at a far greater frequency of 24 per cent.

Prize Money
2022/23 39 27 16 172 23% 48% $4,347,530
2021/22 26 30 20 194 13% 39% $3,499,175
2020/21 32 22 26 215 15% 37% $1,984,925
2019/20 30 30 27 230 13% 38% $2,271,499
2018/19 25 22 21 173 15% 39% $1,639,135

Table: Grahame Begg’s season performance per season

The Mornington-based horseman has enjoyed the majority of his success at metropolitan standard or better. In the past 10 months, Begg has saddled 20 Victorian metropolitan winners which accounts for over 50 per cent of all winners this season. Earning his maiden Group 1 victory on the Grahame Begg-trained Written By in the 2018 G1 Blue Diamond S., Jordan Childs continues to maintain a remarkable association with the trainer having guided home just shy of 60 per cent of Begg’s total winners for the season.

Strike Rate
1 Ciaron Maher 517 78 15%
2 Peter G Moody 274 50 18%
3 Ben Hayes 307 34 11%
4 James Cummings 160 33 21%
5 Mick Price 216 32 15%
6 Michael Moroney 216 23 11%
7 Phillip Stokes 164 20 12%
8 Grahame Begg 84 20 24%
9 Patrick Payne 138 19 14%
10 Trent Busuttin 168 16 10%

Table: Victorian metropolitan trainers’ premiership by winners

Currently sitting eighth in this season’s Victorian metropolitan trainers’ premiership by winners, Begg is clearly outperforming his rivals when factoring in strike rate. Although he has trained considerably fewer starters than his nearest rival, Begg is producing winners at a far greater frequency than Victoria’s largest trainers. Maintaining a metropolitan winners-to-runners strike rate of 24 per cent has him clear leader of the pack ahead of James Cummings (21 per cent), Peter Moody (18 per cent) and Ciaron Maher and David Eustace (15 per cent).

Black-type success

While he already maintains an impressive overall winning strike rate, Begg’s performance is remarkable given the fact he is maintaining the same winning frequency when competing in stakes events. From 46 attempts this season, Begg has produced no fewer than 11 stakes winners from seven different horses which has 12 per cent of his current stable as black-type winners.

Race Won
Distance Won
Passive Aggressive 4YO G2 Challenge S. 1000 metres
Vespertine 5YO Listed MSS Security S. 1200 metres
Cardinal Gem 4YO Listed Weekend Hussler S., G3 Victoria Handicap., Listed Anniversary Vase 1400 metres
Lunar Flare 7YO G3 Bart Cummings S., Listed Andrew Ramsden S. 2510 metres and 2800 metres
Maharba 2YO Listed Talindert S. 1100 metres
Nonconformist 6YO G2 Blamey S. 1600 metres
Magic Time 3YO Listed Amanda Elliot S., G3 P J Bell S. 1200 metres and 1400 metres

Table: Grahame Begg’s stakes winners, season 2022/23

A multi-talented trainer, Begg’s 11 black-type winners occurred at distances of 1000 metres to 2800 metres and from juveniles to seasoned veterans. Short-course specialist Passive Aggressive (Fastnet Rock) put the writing on the wall this preparation when landing the biggest win of her career in the G2 Challenge S. at Randwick when she defeated elite sprinters Eduardo (Host {Chi}) and Giga Kick (Scissor Kick). Undefeated in her four starts as a 3-year-old, the lightly raced Jonathon Munz-owned mare went to another level this preparation which included tilts at the G1 TJ Smith S. and G1 Robert Sangster S.

Begg has enjoyed a stellar season with his progressive 4-year-old Cardinal Gem (Choisir) who added not only one but three stakes wins to his name this season. Prior to this season, his best performance in stakes company was as a 3-year-old when fourth in the Listed Amanda Elliot S. Landing his maiden stakes win in the Listed Weekend Hussler S, Cardinal Gem earned a place in the $10 million Golden Eagle to finish a respectable 10th, beaten just over 5l. It was in the autumn of this year when the gelding really came into his own which included back-to-back victories in the G3 Victoria H. and Listed Anniversary Vase which both occurred at Sandown over 1400 metres. A $60,000 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale purchase by Begg and Rohan Hughes, the progressive gelding has now accumulated over $650,000 in earnings and is now full steam towards a Queensland winter carnival campaign.

Of his more seasoned brigade, the 7-year-old mare Lunar Flare (Fiorente {IRE}) gained herself automatic entry into this year’s Melbourne Cup with an emphatic victory in last weekend’s Listed Andrew Ramsden S. over 2800 metres. That win marked the 7-year-old’s fourth career stakes victory and second for the season which included her G3 Bart Cummings S. victory that occurred in the spring of last year. Fellow veteran Nonconformist (Rebel Raider) landed a second Group 2 victory with a dominant win in the G2 Blamey S. at Flemington in March. The 6-year-old gelding has subsequently earned a tilt at Queensland winter carnival features joining his stable-mate Cardinal Gem.

Stable mate Vesperatie (Epaulette) earned a valuable black-type win when running away the winner of the Listed MSS Security Sprint at Flemington in November. The lightly raced 5-year-old mare added two further stakes-level performances to her name when fourth in both the G3 Geoffrey Bellmaine S. and G3 Tony Bourke Memorial S. this campaign. A $110,000 purchase by Begg and Rohan Hughes Thoroughbred Services at the 2019 Inglis Classic Yearling Sale, she has now accumulated over $400,000 in earnings and is undoubtedly a valuable breeding proposition for the future.

While a brilliant campaigner of older horses, Begg proved he can do it at both ends of the spectrum with Pride Of Dubai 2-year-old Maharba. The gelding handed Begg another 2-year-old stakes victory when he ran out a winner of the Listed Talindert S. at Flemington earlier this year.

Exciting Milburn Creek retained 3-year-old Magic Time (Hellbent) further proved Begg’s competence in preparing lightly raced stock towards feature races. She graduated from a dominant Pakenham Synthetic maiden win to stakes company with ease when she landed the Listed Amanda Elliot S. at Flemington last spring. In an impressive training feat, she then travelled to Sydney where she remained undefeated to win the G3 P J Bell S. at just her third career start.

With the Queensland winter carnival still to come and two months remaining in the racing season, Begg’s incredible year is set to continue. With a leading Melbourne Cup hope and a host of emerging young talent on his books, the 15-time Group 1 winning trainer’s reputation for producing quality results from small opportunities remains firmly set in stone.

Article courtesy of TDN AusNz.