The Group 1 Canterbury Stakes is run during March at Randwick Racecourse. The event is a 1300-metre sprint race for any horse, so long as it is aged three years or more.
The running conditions are weight-for-age.
Canterbury Stakes Race Details
Race Distance: 1300m
Prize Money: $600,000
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When Is The Canterbury Stakes: 2/3/24
What Time Is The Canterbury Stakes: TBA
Where Is The Canterbury Stakes: Randwick Racecourse
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More Details About The Canterbury Stakes
Prizemoney for the race is $600,000 as of 2023, but the race was worth $500,000 in 2022, when Hugh Bowman steered the very handy mare Forbidden Love to a 1.75 length win over Lighthouse and seven other gallopers. She won the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes in her next jump, followed by a fourth in the Group 1 Doncaster Handicap.
After that patch of racing, Forbidden Love failed to place in six further jumps. She is now retired with 29 jumps for eight wins and 6 placings for above $2.2 million in earnings.
Considering her pedigree, it almost makes one wonder why Forbidden Love was raced so many times. Her sire was All Too Hard, with all that implies and there was top blood on her dam’s side, Juliet’s Princess, most notably More Than Ready.
Forbidden Love collected $292,000 for winning the Canterbury Stakes.
The winner of the Canterbury Stakes receives a ballot exemption for the George Ryder Stakes and the Doncaster Handicap. Forbidden Love took advantage by winning the Group 1 George Ryder two weeks later. She ran fourth off the ballot exemption for the Doncaster, but she was just 1.6 lengths back, so she was more than competitive.
The race is often targeted by gallopers that ran well in the Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes. Pierro (2013) and Dance Hero (2005) are the only two to win the Golden Slipper/Canterbury Stakes double in recent memory.
Winx won the Doncaster and the George Main in 2016, but she did not line up for the Canterbury Stakes, else she would have won all three, although we doubt she would have needed a ballot exemption.
The same thing was witnessed in 2015, when it was Kermadec winning the Doncaster and the George Main without jumping in the Canterbury Stakes.
The first horse tips that we found to win the Canterbury, Doncaster and George Main in the same year was Emancipation (1983). We did not spot another, checking back to 1945, the first year in which the George Main Stakes was run.
History of the Canterbury Stakes
The race jumped for the first time in 1929. It remained there through 1996, and then entered a phase where it alternated between Canterbury and Rosehill Gardens. That time period goes all the way to 2014, the first year the race was run at Randwick, where it appears to have found a permanent home, although permanent in the Thoroughbred racing sense of the word.
With minor modification, the trip for the Canterbury Stakes has been relatively constant, jumping as short as 1200 metres for most of its existence. In 2008, the race was at Rosehill and was stretched to 1550 metres. From that year forward, the race has settled at 1300 metres.
The race was shifted from a spring race to an autumn race in 1979, necessitating the cancellation of the race in 1978. Those where the years when the Group grading system was implemented, switching the classification of the race from Principal to Group 2. The race was promoted to Group 1 in 2013.
Venue for the Canterbury Stakes
Randwick is the current and seemingly permanent site for the Canterbury Stakes.
There has been racing at the site since 1833, but that is crediting the start of racing there as the result of two-horse match race between a couple of aristocratic types that decided to settle their differences with a horse race rather than swords or pistols.
Modern Royal Randwick Racecourse is now one of; some would say the, premier racetrack in Australia.
No other venue stages more Group graded races than Randwick, but the race that seems to have really cemented the venue in the minds of many whose view of racing is the Melbourne Cup and all the other races, is The Everest, an unclassified special conditions race that offers up $15 million in prizemoney.
Other elite races held at Randwick include the Sydney Cup, the All-Aged Stakes and the Epsom Handicap, to mention a few.
The track became truly significant in the period between 1840, when the Australian Jockey Club (AJC) was formed. That outfit made Randwick its headquarters in 1860. The AJC merged with the Sydney Turf Club (STC) in 2011 to beget the Australian Turf Club (ATC).
For a 1300-metre race, a chute off the course proper intended for 1400-metre jumps is used. After the jump, the gallopers have a short straight, and then make two turns before hitting the home straight to finish in front of the stands.
Racing History of the Canterbury Stakes
Racing historians, the sort we claim to be, appreciate these good races because the past winners are well worth the history writing.
In the case of the Canterbury Stakes, though, it is almost an embarrassment of riches. For example, we could spend the entirety of this article on the winner of the first jump of the race in 1929, Amounis.
We cannot think of a single word to write about Amounis that has not already been written. For now, here are some of this legend’s racing highlights, which could have been even greater except that he was a contemporary of Phar Lap. He beat Phar Lap when Phar Lap was in his prime and Amounis was in his sunset years in the 1930 Warwick Stakes, which deprived Phar Lap of his 24th consecutive win.
Amounis won the Caulfield Cup, the Cox Plate and he won the Epsom Handicap two times. He won the Cantala Stakes twice and the Linlithgow Stakes three times. He had 22 other wins, with some of the elite races amongst that number.
The next winner was Holdfast in 1930, 1931 and 1932.
We know that Holdfast was a gelding with an impressive pedigree, but not much else about him came to the surface.
After Holdfast’s stranglehold on the race relaxed, we have the 1999 winner, Chatham.
This galloper could also require an entire article.
Between 1931 and 1934, Chatham won the Cox Plate twice, the Crave Plate three times, three Linlithgow Stakes, two Epsom Handicaps, two Hill Stakes and two Warwick Stakes. Tongue-in-cheek, we might ask Chatham, “What, just the one Canterbury Stakes?”
Chatham managed to remain an entire, but unlike the stallions of the modern era that win once at Group 1, and then retire to the lucrative retirement of servicing mares, he made 45 jumps.
After racing, he was a good sire. He passed on the line from his sire, Windbag, although Chatham supplied just 43 named foals by our count.
Sixteen of his progeny were stakes winners, including horses that won the Sydney Cup, the SAJC Birthday Cup, South Australian Derby and the Stradbroke Handicap.
Realizing that we would have no respite from notable winners, the name of Lough Neagh won the Canterbury Stakes in 1934.
He won more races that we can mention, but he won the Rawson Stakes on three occasions, which is also true of the Chipping Norton Stakes. He did much of his racing in Queensland and they still remember him there with the Lough Neagh Stakes at Doomben.
His form line is the thing about this gelding that we truly admire.
He made 127 jumps.
Those 127 attempts supplied 32 wins and 44 placings.
This is all the space we can devote to the early era of the race, but we want to let it be known that we are skipping the likes of Gold Rod (1938), Beau Vite (1939), Yaralla (1942) and Shannon (1947) to look at the winner of the 1950 and 1951 Canterbury Stakes, San Domenico.
Another gelding, his 79 jumps would have impressed us had we not just finished writing about a horse that jumped 127 times.
He won the Challenge Stakes twice, along with two wins in the Warwick Stakes and two in the Canterbury Stakes. Other good wins were the 1952 All-Aged Stakes, George Main Stakes and the Futurity Stakes.
Skipping ahead once again, we believe we are not skipping anything truly important when we jump to the 1961 and 1962 winner, Sky High.
Sky High was a stallion by Star Kingdom.
That says pretty much everything that need be said concerning Sky High, but we will include that he also won the Lightning Stakes twice, the Warwick Stakes twice, two Caulfield Stakes and two Rawson Stakes.
At the time he retired, he was second only to Tulloch for stakes-winnings. He sired four stakes winners in Australia, and then shipped to the U.S., where one of his offspring was the U.S. Handicap Horse of the Year in 1972 and 1973.
In 1971, the race was won by Baugette. Much has been said and written about Baugette, but suffice it to say that he was the first winner of two-year-old Triple Crown. His big win was the 1970 Golden Slipper Stakes.
Baugette stood at Kia Ora Stud alongside Gunsynd. His progeny includes 18 stakes winners, including Crown Jester that would sire two Golden Slipper winners – Guineas and Rory’s Jester.
Jumping forward yet again, we mention that the race was not held in 1978 because it was being shifted from a spring race to an autumn race.
Many great gallopers won the race subsequently, horses that others and we have written about extensively. There was Manikato in 1982, immediately followed by Emancipation in 1983.
Of Manikato, this 1979 Australian Horse of the Year made 47 jumps for 29 wins and 13 placings. He earned above $1.1 million back when that meant more than winning one Group 1 and a couple Group 3 races. He won the Futurity Stakes four times, the William Reid Stakes five times and the George Ryder Stakes twice.
Of Emancipation, her 19 victories from 28 jumps fairly scream to be acknowledged. Her sire was Bletchingly and that line includes Biscay and Star Kingdom and Gunsynd on her dam’s side. Oddly enough, she never supplied multiple wins in any of the major races she contested.
Her offspring were okay as racers, but as breeders, her daughters produced multiple Group 1 winners.
Placid Ark was the winner in 1987. This gelding out of Western Australia won seven major races in 1987 alone. He made just 21 jumps for 14 wins and three placings, which makes us wonder how it would feel to own a galloper with a 66% winning strike rate. His significant contribution to the sport of racing was as the first to win the so-called autumn sprinters treble of the Newmarket Handicap, the Oakleigh Plate and the Lightning Stakes.
Placid Ark was followed by the next to win the Canterbury Stakes twice, At Sea.
Foaled in 1981, and yes, there is a connection to Star Kingdom, At Sea was an old man when he won the Canterbury Stakes in 1988 and 1989. He is interesting to us because while the other winners we have mentioned were legends or nearly so, At Sea was no better than average.
All Our Mob was the winner in 1997.
He won four Group 1 races, made 52 jumps for 9 wins and 24 placings and earned above $2.6 million.
It was Shogun Lodge in 2001.
Shogun Lodge made 58 jumps for 13 wins and 20 placings to earn above $4.6 million. His best wins were the 2000 Epsom Handicap and the 2001 Queen Elizabeth Stakes. His story concludes tragically, as he suffered a fatal heart attack while contesting the Emirates Stakes.
We have to skip once again, but we are skipping the likes of Dance Hero (2005), Paratroopers (2006) and Hot Danish (2010).
That leads us straight to the last dual winner of the Canterbury Stakes, More Joyous.
More Joyous made 30 jumps for 21 wins and 2 placings. She earned above $4.4 million.
Same query as earlier: How must it feel to own a galloper that had a 70 percent winning strike rate? We suppose it must be the feeling of justification for spending the fee to have More Than Ready serve Sunday Joy.
It might not have felt quite as good when More Joyous ran second last in the 2009 Golden Slipper Stakes to another More Than Ready offspring, Phelan Ready.
More Joyous supplied two foals to Snitzel, two to Frankel and one to Fastnet Rock, but none appears to have won more than one race.
After More Joyous, the 2013 winner was Pierro.
Pierro represents the modern era of stallioning.
He made just 14 jumps for 11 wins, three placings and $4.5 million in prizemoney.
We have to ask: How does it feel to own a racer with a 78 percent winning strike rate? His big win was the 2012 Golden Slipper Stakes. His seven major wins in 2012 make us ask: Why did Pierro make so many jumps?
Pierro’s sire was Lonhro, so Pierro sired plenty of good racers. One was Arcadia Queen that made just 16 jumps for eight wins and four placings to earn just below $4 million.
His offspring have combined to win 143 races from 241 jumps, worth more than $20 million in stakes.
Good and better types continue on the balance of the Canterbury Stakes list of winners, including Le Romain (2017) and Happy Clapper (2018), two of our favourites from the modern era for their willingness to jump many times and fearless attempts at taking on Winx.
Trapeze Artist from 2019 is another good one.
A Snitzel progeny, Trapeze Artist jumped 20 times for seven wins and four placings and over $5.5 million in earnings. His best win would have been the 2018 All Aged Stakes.
So far, Trapeze Artist has supplied 19 named foals and three others that have yet to be named. No big winners yet, but as the son of Snitzel and grandson of Redoute’s Choice, it would seem only a matter of time.
The 2020 winner of the Canterbury Stakes was The Bostonian.
Aged eight years as of early 2023, The Bostonian is listed as active and he beat Savatiano to win the race. He beat Princess Posh and Trekking to win the Group 1 Kingsford -Smith Cup at Eagle Farm, and then beat Osborne Bulls two weeks prior for the Group 1 Doomben 10,000.
The 2021 winner was Mizzy.
A mare by Zoustar, Mizzy made 26 jumps for five wins and eight placings. The earnings by Mizzy are given as just under $1.9 million.
The win went to Mizzy after the first to cross, Savatiano, returned a positive swab for a prohibited substance.
The link to the replay that shows Savatiano winning the 2021 Canterbury Stakes that was awarded to Mizzy can be seen at the following link. She jumped against not only Savatiano, but her starting price of $71 was $68 more the starting price of Bivouac. She nearly nipped Savatiano at the line, which would have made the DQ irrelevant.
The Canterbury Stakes has attracted the top sprinters for the entirety of its existence. Multiple Group 1 winners and top breeders are the exception for this prestigious race, rather than exceptions.
Canterbury Stakes Past Winners
|Year||Canterbury Stakes Winners|
|1997||All Our Mob|
|1959||Up And Coming|