Farewell To Team Captain

Jul 4, 2024

It’s something that you dream about, owning a horse that runs at Flemington on that first Tuesday in November, to win on the biggest day of racing in this country – well that is simply a memory that will last a lifetime for the Vic Husslers. 

Your very own Team Captain is that horse that made those dreams come true and that can’t be underestimated. 

Sure, the ultimate would be the Melbourne Cup itself, but truly who doesn’t want to own a horse that races on the biggest stage on the biggest day and wins?

As Husslers have found out, it’s a hell of a conversation starter at the pub, club, or bar-b-que during the Spring as the hype around racing reaches a fever pitch to drop the old line, “Well, I’ve owned a winner at Flemington on Cup day, his name was Team Captain.”


He was no Spring chicken when identified by the Bloodstock Team from TRL. 

Team Captain was owned by the all powerful Yulong Establishment and trained by the Hayes and Dabernig combination at the time and had already had 21 career starts. 

“It was incredibly exciting to get a horse like him, with that sort of pedigree into the stable. 

“It’s always difficult making comparisons but he reminded me of another Galileo galloper I had in Grey Lion. Clearly not in colour but in looks, pedigree, and character. 

“Grey Lion ran in a Melbourne Cup, should have won a Geelong Cup. 

“Team Captain had an identical head to Grey Lion, although I must say Team Captain was prettier” Cumani said. 

Team Captain with the Macccas Run Trophy at Melbourne Cup Day
Team Captain with the Macccas Run Trophy at Melbourne Cup Day


It was still early days in the Vic Husslers journey but a strong group of owners were on hand on Hamilton Cup day for Team Captain’s first race in their colours. 

“I went there thinking it would be too short for him (2200m) but in the end, it was spot on. He won with some authority that day and gave owners plenty to be excited about.  

“While I like to think we improved the horse, sometimes it is that change of environment that can switch them on. 

“But with that win in the Hamilton Cup, I thought we had a nice progressive stayer in the making, so it was exciting for us as a stable and also the huge group of Vic Husslers owners,” Cumani said. 

He won with some authority that day and gave owners plenty to be excited about Trainer Matt Cumani


“It was a huge day a special day not only for Team Captain but myself, the stable, and clearly the Vic Husslers ownership group” Matt Cumani said of that first Tuesday in November of 2021.

Talk about a Melbourne Cup Day with a difference. It’s hard to imagine that Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington,  so famous for its record crowds could be basically deserted for the biggest and most famous day of the year. 

But with a thing called Covid that was the case.  Each horse entered was restricted to just four owners’ tickets but at least we had racing on the track and boy did those four Husslers owners make some noise as Team Captain hit the front and powered away under the urgings of jockey Blaike McDougall. 

“It was the most exciting of times with the Macca’s Run clearly Team Captain’s greatest achievement but not necessarily his best performance. 

“It was a sign of a young horse exploding out of his grade,” Cumani added. 

As a consequence of his wins at Hamilton and the Macca’s Run, Team Captain’s rating was climbing quickly meaning more weight and tougher opposition. 

Team Captain Macca's Run Trophy

“It’s a sign of a young horse exploding out of his grade”  Trainer Matt Cumani

Team Captain with the Macccas Run Trophy at Melbourne Cup Day


It was a strange sight on many race days for some punters who witnessed a constant stream of people making the pilgrimage to the tie-ups as if Winx was in the house. 

Further inquiry would lead them to ascertain that it was Team Captain owned by the Vic Husslers. 

“In the beginning it was amazing to see so many people at the stalls, having their photos taken with Team Captain. 

“Often we train for an individual owner or a small group and many of them simply don’t come to races that often. 

“The Husslers are always in attendance and now with hindsight, his fan base isn’t that surprising. 

“I’ve got to say it’s different, slightly more exhausting but exhilarating at the same time, it’s been a wonderful journey.”


Who doesn’t like one last final fling and Team Captain is no different. 

“His goose stepping in the parade yard, at home, when he is cantering is probably his only quirk but tells you he is enjoying his racing and why we headed to Bendigo for a race over 3600m which profiled well for him.”

Scroll forward to this Thursday at Bendigo and the intention, like so many previous starts, was to be aggressive from the barriers and lead the field.

But Team Captain missed the start and Blaike McDougall was pinned to the fence and while he was full of running at the 1400m the race became a sprint home and that didn’t suit Team Captain. 

He finished fifth another honest run but not the spectacular end to his career we were all hoping for. 

Thanks for the memories Team Captain, you’ve been a joy to so many, and enjoy retirement. 

Team Captain with the Macccas Run Trophy at Melbourne Cup Day