Staged during the spring racing season, the Group 3 Bill Ritchie Handicap is run at Sydney’s Randwick Racecourse.
The race is run under open handicap conditions by horses aged three years and above.
Bill Ritchie Handicap Details
Race Distance: 1400m
Prize Money: $200,000
How To Bet On The Bill Ritchie Handicap
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Bill Ritchie Handicap Betting Tips
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When Is The Bill Ritchie Handicap: 21/9/2024
What Time Is The Bill Ritchie Handicap: TBC
Where Is The Bill Ritchie Handicap: Randwick Racecourse
How To Live Stream The Bill Ritchie Handicap
To live stream the Bill Ritchie Handicap, TAB Account Holders can watch the race live.
More Details About The Bill Ritchie Handicap
Connections go into the race with an eye toward receiving a ballot exemption to the Group 1 Epsom Handicap.
In the lead up to the 2022 edition of the race, the most recent winner was 2021’s Atishu. Atishu did not capitalise on the Epsom ballot exemption, running sixth, beaten by Aramayo, the horse Atishu beat in winning the Bill Ritchie.
Atishu earned the top prize of $83,000 for the win plus a $1600 bonus that brought the take to $84,600.
History of the Bill Ritchie Handicap
Bill Ritchie was a prominent owner and breeder of Thoroughbreds in New South Wales. The race became the Bill Ritchie Handicap for the 1994 race.
Up until that time, the race was known as the AJC Squatters’ Handicap. That race was run as early as 1867.
Nothing against Mr. Ritchie, but Squatters’ Handicap is a far cooler name for a horse race.
We can just see the Randwick stewards approaching a group of no-account gallopers that were hanging out at the track without permission. Peter V’Landys could saunter up and say, “As long as you blokes are squatting here, how about we have a sprint race to determine the best squatter? The winner gets a ballot exemption to the Melbourne Cup.”
It might fool squatting horses; it might not.
The last time the race was run as the Squatters’ Handicap was in 1993. It was won by Belas Knap that we will have more to say about later.
The Bill Ritchie Handicap has made the rounds of the main Sydney metro tracks. We do not know where the race was staged prior to 1980, but in that year, it was staged at Rosehill Gardens, where it remained through 1990. It shifted to Randwick for two jumps and then moved to Warwick Farm for 2005 – 2010. One more race was held at Rosehill. From 2012, Randwick has been the stage for the race.
The race grade started out as something below Listed, with official Listed status being granted in 1979. It was promoted to Group 3 level in 1998.
It appears as though the trip for the race has always been 1400 metres. It was 1400 metres the year of the last Squatters’, and we can somewhat safely assume that the length of the race has never been modified.
Race Venue for the Bill Ritchie Handicap
The current venue for the Bill Ritchie Handicap is Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney.
Compared to Newcastle’s Broadmeadow Racecourse, Randwick is of a most interesting design. Randwick is an oval in the most broadly defined sense of the word oval. There are actually three straights of various lengths and none of the turns is identical to any of the others. There are three starting chutes at the south end of the course that come into play for races of 1600, 1400, 1200 and 1100-metres.
The Bill Ritchie Handicap uses the middle chute, which gives the gallopers about 300 metres to get in position for the first turn.
Randwick has been used for racing in June of 1833, with the first race being a private affair for just two horses.
As of mid-2022, Randwick presents 20 Group 1, 18 Group 2 and 11 Group 3 races. Many will recognise Randwick as the site of the special conditions race The Everest, which is billed as the World’s Richest Turf Race, or something to that effect, where the staggering sum of $15 million in prizemoney has made the race instantly famous, despite its having been run from just 2017. The special condition of the race is that connections with suitably qualified runners pay $600,000 to buy a barrier slot for the race.
Racing History of the Bill Ritchie Handicap
A Group 3 race such as the Bill Ritchie Handicap, even though staged in the prominent location of Randwick Racecourse, will not attract the best types, although Kolding in 2019 and Probabeel in 2020 are notable exceptions. Those two used the race as preparation for the Group 1 Epsom Handicap. Both won the Epsom in their next jumps after the Bill Ritchie.
Neither of those two would have failed to qualify for the Epsom Handicap, provided their connections were committed to participating in the race.
The only other horse to win the Bill Ritchie Handicap and use the ballot exemption to advantage was the 2013 winner, Boban.
Boban probably could have gotten into the Epsom Handicap without winning the Bill Ritchie, but he did, and when he won those two races consecutively, they were sandwiched in between a BM90 race at Rosehill, followed by the Bill Ritchie, the Epsom, the Group 3 Moonga Stakes and the Group 1 Emirates Stakes.
The bottom line, as of mid-2022, is that following 43 jumps of the Bill Ritchie Handicap, only those three winners went on to win the Epsom.
As we go through the winners’ list, we will look for whether they jumped in the Epsom following winning the Ritchie and how they fared, but we doubt if we will find the data for races run before the early 1990s.
The race has supplied multiple winners on just two occasions.
Royal Reel was the first with wins in 1987 and 1989. The second and last was Zabarra in 2002 and 2003 that forced us to fix the “Z” on our keyboard.
The race was first run and won by Go Mod in 1978.
We appreciate Go Mod for making 103 jumps and staying entire for his entire career. He won the 1975 Newmarket Handicap before that race was lifted to Group 1 level. Go Mod also won the Premiere Stakes (currently run as a Group 2) at Randwick when the race was at Listed grade. It does not seem as though there are any progeny by Go Mod, but at least he won some good races, something any galloper that makes over 100 starts deserves, in our opinion.
The 1979 winner, Drummer, left very little in the way of a racing record.
He did have an impressive pedigree, though. Drummer’s sire was Tattenham. Tattenham was by Star Kingdom. There’s that name again in the lines of a winning Aussie galloper. Star Kingdom made only 16 jumps for nine wins and three placings, but he was a productive sire, with Biscay, Noholme and Todman for three of his best.
The next winner, 1980’s Tulip Town, was nothing special, he did have 10 wins and he earned over $100,000 when that was a decent figure for a stakes earner.
Gooree Pride from 1981 was nothing special, but forgive us for once again mentioning that the winner of an Australian turf race had connections to Star Kingdom. Gooree Pride’s dam was Todesse by Todman that was by Star Kingdom.
Note Of Victory from 1982 was a modest racer and sire, supplying foals from 1985 through 1990.
Leica Planet from 1983 was more or less from the same mold as the previous winners, a modest stakes earner by Planet Kingdom Star Kingdom form Lilting. Leica Planet did not race with anything near the success of Planet Kingdom and since Leica Planet was gelded, no progeny, where Planet Kingdom was supplying Group 1 winners of the Caulfield Cup and the Australia Cup, along with other Group 1 races.
Leica Planet is credited with a win in a Group 1 race, the 1984 Goodwood Handicap.
The 1984 winner was Muffler. All that needs said about Muffler is that he had an alias, Dusty. Everyone knows a Dusty Muffler cannot be good.
Dinky Flyer from 1985 was not a dinky racer. She was the first mare to win the race. She won the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 1987, along with two Group 3 races. She placed in other top races as well. Dinky Flyer earned about $400,000 and is credited with nine wins. She dropped seven named foals, five of which were modest stakes winners.
Full Page won in 1986, but did not leave much by way of a racing record. He was gelded so he did not leave anything by way of offspring.
Royal Reel won the race for the first time in 1987 and for the second time in 1989. He was a grey by Royal Rocket out of Dance Till Dawn.
Splitting Royal Reel’s two Bill Ritchie Handicap wins was Pleasant Flight from 1988.
Pleasant Flight had some epic northern hemisphere names in his lines, such as Northern Dancer, Natalma, Nearctic and Wilkes, but it does not seem to have led to much by way of racing results.
A New Zealand gelding named Our Poverty Bay was the winner in 1990.
He was decent, winner of eight with six placings and earnings of almost $300,000.
The 1991, Rechabite, was possibly the best winner of the Bill Ritchie Handicap to this point in the race’s history.
He made 50 starts for six wins and nine placings, managing to turn those results into about $730,000. He won early when he took the Group 1 Sires’ Produce Stakes in 1989. Rechabite used his free pass into the Epsom Handicap to run ninth of 20, but the winner was Super Impose, so it is fair to say Rechabite never had a chance. The Bill Ritchie Handicap was his last win, although he ran satisfactorily in without placing in three more Group 1 jumps.
Prince of Praise from 1992 won over half a million dollars from 10 wins and 7 placings, including a Group 1 win in the 1994 All Aged Stakes in the final race of his career, where he beat March Hare comfortably. His ballot exemption to the Epsom Handicap produced a two-length loss to Kinjite.
We mention 1993 winner Belas Knap only because he made 106 jumps. He earned under $350,000. His run next up in the Epsom resulted in an 11th of 19 finish.
Rouslan from 1994 was pretty good.
He won $680,000 from 31 jumps for seven wins and six placings. He won the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes in the jump prior to the Ritchie, but it appears his connection did not use the ballot exemption for the Epsom, instead sending Rouslan out in the Group 1 Southcorp Packaging Stakes at Flemington.
Our first million-dollar winner appears in 1995’s Monopolize.
He won over $1.8 million from 55 jumps for 10 wins and 11 placings. Monopolize did not try the Epsom that year.
Mamzelle Pedrille from 1996 was the second mare to win the Bill Ritchie Handicap. She did not jump in the Epsom after winning the Ritchie, instead lining up at Caulfield to win the Group 3 Vo Rogue Plate, which was her last win. As a breeder, she was good enough that she was served by Octagonal and Lonhro on several occasions. Her best was Granzig by Grand Lodge, but 12 of her named foals were stakes winners.
We risk skipping some good gallopers, but we are jumping forward to the two wins by Zabarra in 2002 and 2003.
Zabarra did not do much. He did jump in the Epsom after winning the Ritchie for the first time, finishing eighth. He tried again in 2003, finishing 10th. He won or placed in five of his last seven races, including a Group 3 win in the Canterbury Cup.
Drumbeats from 2010 tried the Epsom before winning the Ritchie, finishing fifth after winning his previous start in the Group 2 Shannon Stakes at Rosehill. The Ritchie was his last win, but his connections sent him to Caulfield to try the Group 1 Toorak Handicap, where he lost to More Joyous for what seemed like the zillionth time.
Thankgodyourehere from 2011 was Nowheretobefound in the Epsom, finishing stone motherless of 17 gallopers.
Boban, from 2013, was the first horse to use the ballot exemption from winning the Ritchie to win the Epsom, beating Streama by a nose.
He won over $2.8 million from 37 jumps for 11 wins and 3 placings.
We mentioned some of Boban’s other Group 1 wins earlier, but at this point, we want to add the Chipping Norton Stakes, easily, from none other than It’s A Dundeel. Boban won the Group 1 Doomben 10000, and then ran second in the Stradbroke Handicap. His final win was the Group 1 Memsie.
The next Bill Ritchie Handicap winner we want to examine is Kolding for 2019. Kolding was the second galloper to win the Epsom Handicap off the Ritchie win ballot exemption.
Kolding is still active and has already won over $6.4 million from 39 jumps for 11 wins and 8 placings. Over $4 million of his stakes came from winning the Golden Eagle at Rosehill in 2019. Kolding won the Group 1 George Main Stakes in September of 2020. Next up, he beat Avilius to win the Group 2 Hill Stakes and in April of 2021, he beat Savatiano in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes for his last win to date.
A replay of Kolding wining the Bill Ritchie Handicap can be viewed at the following link.
We have 2020 winner Probabeel, the third and last horse to win the Ritchie and back in the Epsom.
Probabeel is by Savabeel, so no real surprise that he is a good racer.
As of mid-2022, Probabeel’s last race and win was the Group 3 Geoffrey Bellmaine Stakes. His first Group 1 win was the 2020 Surround Stakes. He beat a good Arcadia Queen to win 2021 Group 1 Futurity Stakes. His next Group 1 win was the Caulfield Stakes in October of 2021 before having a poor outing in the Cox Plate, running fifth.
Only three horses, Probabeel, Kolding and Boban were able to win the Epsom Handicap off the Ritchie winner’s ballot exemption. Many others did not try and only a few made good use of the exemption to place well.
With top echelon winners starting to try the race in recent years, the quality of the field has improved.
The top horses use the race as preparation not only for the Epsom Handicap, but also for other high-level races in the many Group 1 miles contested during the spring carnivals.
Bill Ritchie Handicap Past Winners
|2018||Siege Of Quebec|
|2016||Sons Of John|
|2012||Steps In Time|
|1992||Prince Of Praise|
|1990||Our Poverty By|
|1982||Note Of Victory|