The Chairman’s Handicap is a Group 2 quality handicap of 2600 metres for any horse aged three years and above that is staged at Randwick Racecourse during autumn racing in Sydney.
Prize money for the race as of 2023 is $300,000.
Chairmans Handicap Race Details
Race Distance: 2600m
Prize Money: $300,000
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When Is The Chairmans Handicap: 6/4/24
What Time Is The Chairmans Handicap: TBA
Where Is The Chairmans Handicap: Randwick Racecourse
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More Details About The Chairmans Handicap
Surefire was awarded the top prize of $170,000, surprising seven racers that jumped shorter than Surefire’s $17.
The Brit bred gelding is the product of sire Fastnet Rock and Ireland’s Modesta. His last jump, a ballot-free barrier in the Group 1 Sydney Cup, saw Surefire well back in early April of 2023.
The cat was permitted to escape the bag earlier with the mention of Surefire jumping in the Sydney Cup using the exemption from balloting for the Sydney Cup granted to the winner of the Chairman’s Handicap. An added spiff is that the Chairman’s Handicap winner is free of weight penalties.
Eight racers have used the ballot exemption to lift the Sydney Cup following winning the Chairman’s. Those were The Offer (2014), Jessicabeel (2010), No Wine No Song (2008), Henderson Bay (2002), Linesman (1997), King Aussie (1990), Major Drive (1987) and Marooned (1986).
The 2023 jump of the race saw it as the lone Group 2 race on the card, but the main attractions at this meeting were four Group 1 races – the Doncaster Handicap, T J Smith Stakes, Australian Derby and the Sires’ Produce Stakes.
Group 3 grade at the meeting is represented by the Adrian Knox Quality Stakes, Carbine Club Stakes, Kindergarten Stakes and P J Bell Stakes.
Staying races of this 2600-metre trip are not common at this grade, but we will find some better winners with noteworthy results on the track and as progenitors of the equine species.
History of the Chairman’s Handicap
The debut of the Chairman’s Handicap matches the inception of the Group grading system in 1979.
That first year of 1979 through 2001 found the race at Group 3 grade. Group 2 status was granted beginning with 2002.
The trip for the race was 2600 metres from the beginning through 1999 before spending 2000 – 2003 at the more familiar staying race trip of 2400 metres. It returned to 2600 metres in 2004.
Venue for the Chairman’s Handicap
The Chairman’s Handicap has managed to hold every jump at Sydney’s premier metro racecourse, Royal Randwick Racecourse.
Randwick opened in 1833 and is the site for many of the oldest and most prestigious Australian turf races.
A few of these are the Group 1 marquess - the Australian Derby, Doncaster Handicap and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Randwick’s mega-money race is The Everest that began in 2017 and has the top prize money purse of $15 million.
Over the course of a year, Randwick offers 20 Group 1, 18 Group 2 and 11 Group 3 races, although those figures could change as the result of a race having its grade changed.
The jump for 2600-metre races at Randwick finds the barriers at the top of the home straight. After crossing the finish line, they run a sweeping turn connecting the back straight to a turn that is followed by a short straight leading onto the home turn for the 400-metre kick to the finish line.
Racing History of the Chairman’s Handicap
The winners of the Chairman’s Handicap that have used the ballot exemption to the Group 1 Sydney Cup for a win in that race will be looked at initially.
That list of eight gallopers accounts for nine wins in the Chairman’s Handicap because one of two two-time winners of the Chairman’s is the 2007 and 2008 winner No Wine No Song. The other was Tremec that won the race twice in 2013 and 2015.
That second win by Tremec in 2015 took place when a heavy track forced the halt of the Easter Saturday meeting and found the race jumping two days later on Easter Monday.
The race jumped seven times before 1986’s Marooned took the Sydney Cup following the win in Chairman’s Handicap.
Marooned, like many of the other winners we will encounter, was considered a Brit import, loitering around Australia looking for a path to the Melbourne Cup.
His zenith as a racer of just 11 jumps came when he raced in Australia as a five-year-old and won the Group 3 N E Manion Cup, the Group 2 Chairman’s and the Group 1 Sydney Cup successively.
Marooned was left in Australia to propagate, which he did with vigour over the years following his racing until a fractured leg in November 2006 necessitated his being put down.
He was damsire to Miss Andretti and his sons and daughters raked in million in stakes, with 17 winners that earned anything from $127,000 to $841,000.
The next galloper to lift the Chairman’s and the Sydney Cup in the same year was Major Drive in 1987.
This 1987 gelding by Ireland’s Sea Anchor needed 47 jumps, for a form line of 10 wins and 14 placings in order to earn $382,000.
He beat good sorts that include Myocard and Foxseal in the Sydney Cup and Rastes into third in the Chairman’s Handicap.
King Aussie was the winner of the Chairman’s Handicap in 1990 ahead of winning the Sydney Cup.
Ironically, King Aussie was a Kiwi racer that posted nine wins, with the Sydney Cup and the Chairman’s Handicap being his top wins. He beat the better Palace Revolt in the Sydney Cup, but he was usually the one placing when he lined up against top classers. His other Group 1 start was the 1990 Brisbane Cup, where he ran third behind Shuzohra and Lord Hybrow.
Linesman filled the double in 1997.
This Kiwi gelding made 43 jumps for eight wins and nine placings to earn $1.1 million. The Sydney Cup win found Linesman besting Nothin Leica Dane.
Linesman’s first major win was the 1996 Group 2 St Leger at Randwick. His win in the Chairman’s Handicap was by four lengths and he was ahead of Nothing Leica Dane by six lengths in the Sydney Cup.
His second-last jump supplied a win in the Group 3 Summer Cup at Randwick and Linesman concluded with a Group 1 race in New Zealand where he was a distant sixth to Jezabeel.
It was Henderson Bay lifting the trophies for 2002. Another New Zealand gelding, Henderson Bay retired following 49 jumps for nine wins and seven placings, results that earned $1.2 million.
The Chairman’s Handicap was by this time a Group 2 grade race and the win by Henderson Bay in the Sydney Cup came against Mr. Prudent. The Sydney Cup would have been his last win, but the Listed grade City Tatt’s Club Cup added one additional victory to his tally.
The next in the line to win both races was No Wine No Song in 2008. He also won the Chairman’s Handicap in 2007.
Born in Australia to an Irish sire and a Kiwi dam, No Wine No Song was a gelding that won 10 times and placed in 12 races to earn $1.3 million from 59 jumps.
No Wine No Song was the sort that was not quite up to grade in many of his races. Beyond the Sydney Cup, three jumps at Group 1 resulted in placings only.
Zabeel’s daughter Jessicabeel was the Syndey Cup/Chairman’s Handicap doubler for 2010.
Her 18 jumps supplied five wins and two placings for $464,000.
She beat No Wine No Song into second for the 2010 victory.
Jessicabeel left no progeny record, which is perplexing, given her pedigree looks like the sort to preserve.
The final galloper to win the Chairman’s Handicap and the Sydney Cup in the same year was 2014’s The Offer.
The Offer was an Irish gelding with nary a trace of Aussie or Kiwi blood in his lines. Twenty-nine jumps produced eight victories, six placings and $1.6 million in prize money.
The Offer was pretty good in our view and took advantage of beating Opinion, another Irish gelding that won the Group 1 Metropolitan Handicap in 2014. The Offer’s win in the Sydney Cup was by nearly four lengths. The Offer was the first we noticed that jumped in the Melbourne Cup, but we admittedly were not examining all the Syndey Cup/Chairman’s Handicap winners for that element.
There you have the details about the gallopers that used the ballot exemption granted for winning the Chairman’s Handicap to capture the Sydney Cup.
Now for the rest of the winners, which will include a few notables, although we cannot provide extensive space to any. We begin with the inaugural winner in 1979, Lady Dignitas.
She was Oz born by a U.S. sire and a Kiwi dam. She had a brush with adding her name to the list of Chairman’s/Sydney Cup winners when she ran second to Double Century, the sire of Stylish Century that won three Group 1 races, including the Victoria Derby in 1989.
Her stud output was all fillies and despite one of her sires being Planet Kingdom, with all that name implies, none of her four foals were good racers.
At the risk of skipping something important, we leap forward to 1984, when the Chairman’s Handicap was won by What A Nuisance.
This Kiwi-bred gelding did that which we would realistically expect from a horse capable of winning the Chairman’s Handicap.
The that of which we speak was winning the 1985 Melbourne Cup.
He was the type that captured lightning in a bottle to win two major races, including the major-est of them all. He jumped in the Melbourne Cup for $16 in the first year the Melbourne Cup offered $1 million in total prize money. At the time, that prize pool made the Melbourne Cup the most valuable race ever run in Australia to that point.
Jumping ahead now by multiple years, we find a notable winner of the Chairman’s Handicap in the form of 2004’s Mummify.
A gelding by Jeune, Mummify made 48 jumps for 9 wins and 17 placings for prize money of above $5.1 million. A Group 1 win in Singapore delivered $1.25 million while the Caulfield Cup win in 2003 added another $1.3 million, so it would seem that trainer lee Freedman and the syndicate that owned Mummify were lucky, adept, or both at finding good spots to win. Unlike many others with multiple wins, Mummify did not pad the tally with insignificant wins. Just one of his came on the junior circuit.
Mummify won numerous other Group 1 races and had he not been destroyed following a shattered bone in his foreleg sustained while running third in the 2005 Caulfield Cup.
We recognise many of the names of the subsequent winners, including Philosophe and Jessicabeel, but our next subject is the winner from 2013 and 2015, Tremec.
Tremec was a gelding by Zabeel that had the staying durability to make 84 jumps for 9 wins and 11 placings. All that racing resulted in $711,000.
Judging from his racing record, Tremec earned every mouthful he ever had. Exiled to the country tracks, his last win was a hurdles race at Casterton Racing Club in 2016.
Libran was the 2016 winner of the Chairman’s Handicap.
Now deceased, this gelding made 44 jumps for 9 wins and 9 placings to earn $1.4 million. Libran raced in England, coming to Australia at the age of five to win the Chairman’s, the N E Manion Cup and the ATC Kingston Town Stakes – both at Group 3 grade. The ballot exemption for the Sydney Cup resulted in a second to Gallante, the horse Libran beat to win the Manion Cup.
The 2021 winner was Quick Thinker.
The son of So You Think, this Kiwi stallion made 23 jumps for 5 wins and 5 placings for $1.2 million in prize money.
Like many in his class of racer, he enjoyed a singular Group 1 success when he won the 2020 Australian Derby, proving that not only his thinking was quick.
After his last race, a 14th in the Group 1 The Metropolitan in 2021, Quick Thinker has not reported a first crop of offspring as of yet.
Nerve Not Verve was the 2020 winner.
She is a New Zealand mare by Shocking that is not shown as retired, but as transferred after making 52 jumps for 7 wins and 16 placings, good for about $780,000.
The Chairman’s Handicap is a respectable staying race that attracts international gallopers seeking Australian staying races riches. It has supplied plenty of Kiwi racers and some better Australian types.
Even with its current spot on the racing calendar, where it could be understandably overshadowed by the stellar lineup of Group 1 races at the meeting, it certainly delivers the top stayers that might otherwise be in the Australian Derby on the same day.
ATC Chairmans Handicap Past Winners
|2022||Nerve Not Verve|
|2018||Sir Charles Road|
|2011||Once Were Wild|
|2008||No Wine No Song|
|2007||No Wine No Song|
|1993||Te Akau Nick|
|1988||Round The World|
|1984||What A Nuisance|