The Australian Turf Club Group 2 Challenge Stakes is a century-old weight for age open race held at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney.
The Autumn Racing Carnival features a number of races with quality mares and fillies competing in the Group ATC Challenge Stakes. The race held in mid- March is run over a distance of 1000 meters with a total of $400,000 in prize money up for grabs among a field of handy sprinters.
Being a race run at Weight For Age, the notable gallopers have a distinct advantage and usually oblige their connections and punters with an impressive run.
The event serves as a lead up to the 1100 meters Group 2 Star Kingdom Stakes on Golden Slipper Stakes Day at Rosehill Racecourse. Some of the runners move on to Randwick for the Group 1 The Galaxy also run over 1000 meters.
The inaugural AJC Challenge Stakes in 1906 was won by a horse named The Pet.
The event was a principal race until 1978 after which it was upgraded to Group 2 status. Golden Hop was the first to score back to back victories in 1913 and 1914. Felbeam repeated the feat in 1945 and 1946 followed by San Domenico in 1949 and 1950. Razor Sharp and At Sea stamped their authority on the AJC Challenge Stakes with three consecutive victories from 1982-1984 and 1985-1987 respectively. Cangronde won the 1997 trophy with a repeat performance in 1998 as well. Star Of Florida followed suit in 2003 and 2004. Tar Girl, who clocked 58.5 seconds, is the first recorded winner of the AJC Challenge Stakes in 1966.
The fastest time of 56.2 seconds set by Zephyr Bay in 1975 was eclipsed by De Lightning Ridge in 2010, with a record breaking 55.92 seconds.
The race is a true test for quality sprinters who desire to make it to Group 1 races towards the end of the autumn racing carnival.
The Group 1 Lightning Stakes at Flemington Racecourse is what punters ought to pay great attention to, as many horses enter the field in the AJC Challenge Stakes after an outing in Melbourne.
Crack sprinters usually head for a showdown in the TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick Racecourse following a good performance in the race. Bomber Bill, a perennial favorite with the Australian crowd was among a notable winner in the 2002 AJC Challenge Stakes, amassing over $1.8 million in prize money over his career.
|Year||Challenge Stakes Winners|
|2019||Ball Of Muscle|
|2015||Miracles Of Life|
|2010||De Lightning Ridge|
|2007||Spark Of Life|
|2004||Star Of Florida|
|2003||Star Of Florida|
|1996||Light Up The World|
|1965||Time And Tide|
|1912||Pride Of Murillo|