The Group 2 Ajax Stakes is a 1500-metre race run at Rosehill Racecourse in Sydney each March. It is for any and all horses provided that they are at least three years of age.
The running conditions are quality handicap and prizemoney for the race as of 2023 is $250,000.
Ajax Stakes Race Details
Race Distance: 1500m
Prize Money: $250,000
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When Is The Ajax Stakes: 9/3/24
What Time Is The Ajax Stakes: TBA
Where Is The Ajax Stakes: Rosehill Racecourse
How To Live Stream The Ajax Stakes
To live stream the Ajax Stakes, TAB Account Holders can watch the race live.
More Details About the Ajax Stakes
The 2023 winner was Cepheus, a six-year-old import from Great Britain that jumped for the first time in Australia at Kembla Grange in August of 2021. His only other placing prior to winning the Ajax Stakes was a lacklustre third in the Group 2 Hill Stakes at Randwick in October of 2021, so he has not exactly been tearing up the Australian turf.
In the Ajax Stakes, Cepheus jumped for $15 as the fourth-longest priced field of 11, scoring a 1.5-length win over the favourite Waterford. He jumped most recently in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile as the longest priced in the field and crossed the line ahead of just two others.
The race jumps at a Rosehill autumn meeting that features the Group 1 Coolmore Classic. The Group 2 Phar Lap Stakes is another major race. Four Group 3 races jump as well – The Sky High Stakes, the Magic Night Stakes, the Pago Pago Stakes and the Maurice McCarten Stakes.
That last race holds an element of historical interest, since McCarten was a jockey that rode Ajax.
The Ajax Stakes is viewed as a lead-up to the Group 1 Doncaster Mile, although that did not provide much tail wind for Cepheus.
History of the Ajax Stakes
The first jump of the Ajax Stakes was in 1974, although the namesake of the race, the legendary Ajax, was well and truly dead by the time the race made its debut.
As for multiple winners of the race, there have been just three.
The first was Catalan Opening that won in 1996 and 1997, followed immediately by Confiscate in 1998 and 1999. The last and most recent to double up was It’s Somewhat in 2016 and 2017.
The race was called the Ajax Stakes from 1974 through 1983, going through various name chages throughout the years, mainly for sponsorship purposes. The race has been simply the Ajax Stakes since 2003.
The race distance has grown. Originally a 1200-metre trip from inception through 1978, it went to 1400-metres from 1979 through 1983 before arriving at the current length of 1500 metres in since 1984.
Likewise, the race grade has moved from Principal grade through 1979, when the current classification made it a Listed grade race in 1980. It was moved to Group 3 in 1984, with the final lift to Group 2 coming in 2006.
Venue for the Ajax Stakes
Cosidering all the changes to name, grade and distance, it is notwworthy that the race has always been homed at Rosehill. Its place on the Australian Thorughbred racing claendar has been constant.
The proper name for the course is Rosehill Gardens Racecouse and the venue is owned and operated by the Australian Turf Club. The original operators was the Sydney Turf Club, but they went away in 2011 when the meger between them and the Australian Jockey Club were merged in 2011.
Consturction commenced in 1883 and racing in 1885.
Rosehill holds racing throughout the year. One of the most anticipated races it holds is the Group1 Golden Slipper Stakes for two-year-olds. They also hold the big money Golden Eagle for four-year-olds since 2019 that offers $10 million in prizemoney, making it Australia’s second richest race.
Over the course of a racing season, Rosehill presents nine Group 1 races, along with 13 Group 2 and 13 Group 3 races.
The course is pear-shaped, with dimensions similar to manor metro tracks across Australia.
For 1500-metre races such as the Ajax Stakes, the racers jump from a chute on the northeast side of the track, run the tighter of the two turns, and then it is down the home straight to cross the finish line at the northwest side of the course.
Racing History of the Ajax Stakes
The list of winners of the Ajax Stakes does not appear to have any truly noteworthy winners at first glance, so we will move through the list from the first jumps through the present day to seek the better types that won above average prizemoney, major races, or served at stud to supply better progeny.
We will skip those that seem to have won nothing better than the Ajax Stakes or did not leave a record of offspring.
The first winner of a race always offers the historical value of being the first to win.
In 1974, that was Tontonan.
He was good, actually quite good. He made 16 jumps for 12 wins and two placings. Horses from that era did not earn a lot for winning. Tontonan brought in about $245,000 with many wins that are now Gropu 1 grade. Some major wins inlclude the Sires’ Produce Stakes, Golden Slipper Stakes, All-Aged Stakes and the Doncaster Handicap, where he beat the notable Toltrice. We did not locate a progeny record for him, which leads us to suspect that given his low number of starts, he was taken off the track to focus on breeding, although that was not as common of a practice as it is nowadays. That leads us to suspect an untimely demise.
The 1976 winner, Wayn’s Bid was a gelding of mostly norhtern hemispher lines that also won The Galaxy before it reached Group 1 status.
Tiger Town from 1977 lists 12 wins. Major wins alongside the Ajax Stakes inlcude the Frederick Clisshold Handicap, with a second plac finish in the Epsom Hanciap and the Stradbroke Handicap.
We finally found a mare winner of the Ajax Stakes in 1980’s Lowan Star. She was by Biscay, which supplies the connection to Star Kingdom.
Lowan Star can claim two Group 1 wins for her racing resume – the AJC (prior to the merger that formed the ATC) Oaks and the QTC Queensland Oaks.
The mare Thumb Print won in 1981.
Star Kingdom was her grandsire, so she had that going for her. As best we could determine the Ajax Stakes was her top win and her one named foal was irrelevant.
1982 winner Winter’s Dance made it three consecutive for mare winners of the Ajax Stakes. She made only seven jumps, though. She die win the Group 3 Katies Cup in Queensland in 1980.
She supplied four colts and six fillies, inlcuding the gelding Winter Guest by Handy Proverb that made 94 jumps and won or placed 39 times.
A New Zeakand galloper named Vite Cheval was the winner in 1984.
He was a good sire from the qunatity perspective and many of his progeny won stakes races, inlcuding a 1989 colt from Wilga Bold named Chevite that made 101 jumps.
Royal Troubador, winner from 1985, made onl 13 jumps, but he won nine of those including two Group 2 races and two Group 3 in addition to the Ajax Stake that was Group 3 by 1985.
He supplied a host of foals, with many stakes winners, but nothing truly remarkable.
Moving to more modern times, we want to have a closer look at four years' worth of Ajax Stakes that had two winners.
The first of these was Catalan Opening from 1996 and 1997.
He won above $2.4 million from 52 jumps for 9 wins and 19 placings.
He often lined up with some of the top gallopers from the time, such as Nothin’ Leica Dane and Octagonal. He beat Filante in the 1996 Royal Sovereign Stakes. His Group 1 breakthrough was the 1997 Chrysler Stakes (Cantala Stakes, Emirates Stakes and as of 2022, the Kennedy Cantala Stakes). It seems fitting that a horse named Catalan would win a race called Cantala.
He beeat Juggler in the 1998 Doncasster Mile for his last win.
The next dual winner from 1998 and 1999 was Confiscate.
He was not quite equal to Catalan Opening, but he managed to win five GRoup 3 races including two Parramatta Leagues Club Stakes the same years he won the Ajax Stakes.
There was a top racer taking the post in 2003.
It was Grand Armee, winner of more than $5.3 million from 31 jumps for 13 wins and 13 placings. His record includes seven Group 1 wins, including two Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the Doncaster, Geroge Main, MacKinnon Stakes and Ranvet Stakes. We nearly forgot the Chipping Norton Stakes.
Grand Armee was the Australian Middle Distance Champion in 2005.
Malcolm, a gedling by the great sire Snippets, was winner in 2006. His other good win was the Gropu 2 Canterbury Stakes in 2007.
All Silent was the winner in 2008 and he won just under $1.7 million from 33 jumps for 8 wins and 2 placings. The Ajax Stakes was his first major win, which he backed by winning the Group 1 Emirates Stakes at Flemington that same year. Another Group 1 win followed in 2009 in the Patinack Classic in the race following a win in the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes, which proved to be his last win.
The 2009 winner was Solo Flyer.
The Ajax Stakes was the bes of his win and by that time, the Ajax Stakes had been Grop 2 grade for the three previous jumps. He was respoosnible for five named colts and nine fillies. A filly out of Bow The Budget named Beautiful Flyer earned above $450,000.
The 2012 winner, Niagara, deserves mention for being the son of Encosta De Lago, even though his form line is just 11 jumps for two wins and five placings. The Ajax Stakes was his best win, where he beat an offspring of Octagonal named Star Of Octagonal.
Most of Niagara’s progeny raced in New Zealand, where many earned some money, with a few winning in the low-to-mid six figure range.
The 2014 Ajax Stakes winner, Messene, had the famous Lonhro for his sire, so the connections to Octagonal and Zabeel are there on the sire’s side. The line from dam Belle Giselle inlcude her sire Redoute’s Choice and Danehill.
Messene made 32 jumps for 10 wins and 8 placings, falling just under $1 millin in prizemoney. The Ajax Stakes was his best win, but he did manage to finsih second to Good Project in the 2015 Group 1 Railway Stakes at Perth and he crossed ahead of Who Shot The Barman in the 2016 Group 3 Sky High Stakes at Rsoehill and he was not too far off It’s Somewhat in the Group 3 Neville Sellwood Stakes in the same year.
The final dual winner of the Ajax Stakes took the form of It’s Somewhat that crossed the line first in 2016 and 2017.
Yet another result of shuttle stallion breeding that brings in northern hemisphere horses into southern hemisphere bloodlines, It’s Somewhat made 46 jumps for 9 wins and 13 placings, good for above $3.4 million in prizemoney.
It’s Somewhat was actually an import of entirely northern hemisphere origins that made 13 jumps in Great Britian before appearing in Australia for the first time at Warwick Farm in 2015 for the Liverpool City Cup, which supplied him with a Group 3 win.
His next win was the Ajax Stakes backed by a victory over 2014 Ajax Stakes winner Messene.
After his second Ajax Stakes win in 2017, He beat Happy Clapper in the Doncaster Mile, followed by a win in the Group 2 Hollindale Stakes at Gold Coast, which would prove to be his last win, although he did run on and have some good results.
A gelding by Fastnet Rock, 2018 winner Comin’ Through earned above $1.8 million from 28 jumps for 7 wins and 6 placings.
Like It’s Somewhat, he raced in Great Britain, and then won in Australia for the first time in the 2016 Carbine Club Stakes at Flemington. He beat Tom Melbourne to win the Ajax Stakes, and then watched from two lengths back as Happy Clapper won the 2018 Doncaster Handicap. He achieved his Group 1 breakthrough with his head in front of Egg Tart in the 2018 Doomben Cup.
Next came the 2019 winner Fifty Stars.
This imported racer made 36 jumps for 10 wins and 7 placings for over $2.7 million. He won his first four jumps, with a nice win in the Group 2 Blamey Stakes at Flemington, backed by his Ajax Stakes win. He won the Blamey Stakes again in 2020, followed by a Group 1 win over Regal Power and Vow And Declare in the Australin Cup. It was his last win, but he added a second place finish in his third jump in the Blamey Stakes.
The 2022 winner, Just Folk is still racing. His last jump was the Golden Mile at Bendigo in early April of 2023. The 2020 Ajax Stakes is his most recent win in a small field of seven.
The Ajax Stakes has supplied good gallopers for the win, many of which used the race as preparation for the Doncaster Mile.
The impact of shuttle stallion breeding can be seen in the goodly number of winners with U.S. and Great Britain sires.
If asked for an opinion, we would say that the winner of the inaugural jump of the Ajax Stakes, Tontonan, and 2003 winner Grand Armee were the top two on the list.
Ajax Stakes Past Winners
|2021||I Am Superman|
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