The Craven Plate is an Australian Thoroughbred legacy race dating back to 1867.
It is a Group 3 level race of 2,000 metres, for horses aged three years and above, staged at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney during the spring carnival, usually around the middle of October.
Craven Plate Race Details
Race Distance: 2000m
Prize Money: $750,000
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When Is The Craven Plate: 26/10/24
What Time Is The Craven Plate: TBA
Where Is The Craven Plate: Randwick Racecourse
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More Details About The Craven Plate
Run under weight-for age conditions, this is probably the best Group 3 race that could easily qualify as Group 1, in our view.
The prizemoney for the race, as of the last jump in 2021, is $750,000.
Quality weight-for-age races such as the Craven Plate often supply winners that win the race on more than one occasion and such is the case for Think It Over, winner of the race is 2020 and 2021.
The 2020 Craven Plate was the first major win by Think It Over, a progeny of So You Think out of Personal Service. He has been spelling since winning the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes in April of 2022, where he beat Zakki, Verry Elleegant, Duais, Anamoe and other top gallopers. Think It Over jumped $41, with only two others priced longer.
He earned $430,500 for the win where only five others lined up to face him. He won by almost two lengths while jumping as the odds on favourite for $1.75.
History of the Craven Plate
First, the name.
There was an Earl of Craven who is part of the British heraldry. The first one was William Craven, born into a poor family in 1608. The family moved to London and became wealthy, which obviously qualified him to claim ties to the royalty. His dad was the Lord Mayor of London beginning in 1610. Craven served with distinction and conspicuous bravery on the Continent during the Thirty Years’ War, so we imagine his fellow officers must have enjoyed a few larks over the name Craven.
We found horses named Craven, but none that seem to fit the correct era. We found a Richard Craven (1845 – 1999) that fit the bill, as he came from England, made a substantial fortune extracting gold in Queensland.
Richard Craven put a lot of his money into a stud at Clarendon, but he never did all that well, with one galloper named Woodlark that managed thirds in The Metropolitan and the VRC Derby in 1898.
We suspect we found the proper namesake of the race. We did check the dictionary and found Craven defined as a cowardly act – probably not the sort of thing that is commemorated with a race name.
The name was changed to the Queen’s Cup for 2000. It was the Japan Trophy Race in 2001 and from 2002, the name reverted to the one used from 1867 – 1999, Craven Plate.
The race grade was Principal from inception through 1978. When the Group classification went into effect, we discovered the unusual element that the race was not held from 1979 – 1983. Of course, it was also abandoned in 2007 due to equine influenza and we are relieved to report that they did not make the horses wear masks to race.
The Craven Plate resumed in 1984 as a Listed race with Group 3 status conferred in 1993.
As for the length of the race, it has been constant at 2000 metres, if we can be forgiven for neglecting the slight distance from the old measurement of 1-1/4 miles prior to metrication. The once exception was the 2001 edition, which was abbreviated to 1800 metres.
Race Venue for the Craven Plate
The Craven Plate has always been held at Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney. We found no instances of it being moved to Rosehill, or heaven forbid, Warwick Farm.
Racing at the present-day site has been going on since 1833.
As of mid-2022, Randwick presents 20 Group 1, 18 Group 2 and 11 Group 3 races. It is also home to the special condition race The Everest, which at least for now can legitimately claim to be the world’s richest turf race.
A few of the other major Group 1 races held at Randwick are the Australian Derby, the AJC Queen Elizabeth Stakes, All Aged Stakes and Doncaster Handicap.
The course is a non-symmetrical triangle, which is the best our limited geometric vocabulary will permit.
For a 2000-metre race such as the Craven Plate, the racers make just under one full circuit. They start on the course proper and run clockwise to finish in front of the stands at the northeast side of the venue.
Racing History of the Craven Plate
It is hard to know where to begin and where to end when an elite race such as the Craven Plate is concerned.
Many of the winners have been the true champions, the topmost of the upper echelon of Australian Thoroughbreds. Any one of dozens of Craven Plate winners have had entire books written about them and many are featured on the section of our website that deals with the greatest of the greats.
With some of these greats, we will give the name and the year they won the race, while we will look for some of the lesser that despite not being historically significant, had to be good in order to win a race of the Craven Plate’s calibre.
The first winner in 1867 was Yattendon. He was by the legendary sire Sir Hercules out of Cassandra and after racing, he sired some of the best gallopers in the history of Australian racing.
A few of his offspring were Gainsborough, Grand Flaneur and Hercules. The DNA of Yattendon and his progeny still course through the lines of the best gallopers.
The Barb won in 1868 after winning the 1866 Melbourne Cup as a three-year-old. The Barb was also by Sir Hercules, but out of Fair Ellen.
The champion Glencoe won in 1869. He won the Melbourne Cup in 1868 and eight other Principal races.
Tim Whiffler was the first to win the race twice, in 1870 and 1871. He won the Melbourne Cup in 1867 and he was capable enough to win other major races, including the AJC Queen’s Plate in 1868, 1870 and 1871.
The 1878 winner of the Craven Plate, Chester, won the Melbourne Cup in 1877 and was awarded the leading sire honours in 1888, 1890, 1892 and 1893. His best colt was Abercorn that was able to be the legendary Carbine on more than one occasion.
Trident was a dual winner of the race in 1886 and 1887. He was a winner of races as long as 4800 metres and the reason he never won a Melbourne Cup is that he probably viewed it as a sprint.
The Carbine-beating Abercorn was dual winner in 1888 and 1889, while the 1990 winner, Carbine, only won the race once.
We mention the 1895 winner Delaware because we always appreciate a multiple winner that wins a second time after skipping a year or more. Delaware won the race again in 1897.
Sandwiched in between, the 1896 winner was Newhaven that also won the Victoria Derby and the Melbourne Cup that same year while carrying a record weight for a three-year-old, but still managed to win by six lengths.
Our next dual winner was Duke Foote in 1912 and 1913. He won the Chelmsford Stakes in those same years.
The years subsequent to World War I produced Craven Plate winners, any one of which could be the subject of complete biographies.
We had Gloaming in 1919, 1922 and 1924, a remarkable five-year span.
Windbag won the race in 1925 and 1926 and he won the Melbourne Cup in 1925.
Windbag passed the baton to the 1927 winner, Limerick, followed by Amounis (1928), Phar Lap (1929, 1930, 1931) Chatham (1932, 1933, 1934) and Peter Pan (1935).
Clearly, the Craven Plate was the race to win.
The list did not stop with Peter Pan.
The 1938 winner was the dual Cox Plate winner Young Idea that won Australia’s most challenging weight-for-age race in 1936 and 1937.
Next came High Caste in 1939.
He won the Craven Plate just once, but had multiple wins in the C. B. Fisher Plate, the Caulfield Stakes, Linlithgow Stakes, Challenge Stakes and the St. George Stakes.
Beau Vite was the dual winner from 1940 and 1941.
Those same two years that he won the Craven Plate, Beau Vite also won the Clifford Plate, the Cox Plate and the MacKinnon Stakes.
A dual winner with an intervening year was Flight, winner in 1943 and 1945.
In between the two Craven Plate wins by Flight was Tea Rose that won the AJC Derby and the Rosehill Guineas that same year.
The race was not held in 1946 for reasons unknown to us, but as we are always willing to speculate, we surmise that no one told the AJC that World War II had ended.
Our next notable winner was Carbon Copy from 1949.
How we wish Carbon Copy had supplied a duplicate win, but he did win the Chipping Norton Stakes in 1949 and 1950 and he will be remembered for winning the AJC Derby and the Cox Plate in 1948.
It would appear that the era between World War I and World War II could not possibly be surpassed, but that is a subjective view considering the exploits of some of the post-World War II winners.
There was Hydrogen in 1951 and 1952.
He was also a dual winner of the Cox Plate in 1952 and 1953.
It required only to 1954 for another dual winner to appear.
It was Prince Cortauld and it was Prince Cortauld again in 1955.
The Craven Plate was won by Prince Darius in 1957 and 1958. He was good enough to beat Tulloch in the St. George Plate and record a second in the 1957 Melbourne Cup as a three-year-old.
Tulloch was good enough to beat them all for the win in 1960.
Two years later, we encounter the dual winner Summer Fair from 1962 and 1963. Other good wins by the Kiwi stallion were the Caulfield Cup and the MacKinnon Stakes, to mention but two.
Summer Fair was by Summertime of Great Britain that also served as the sire for the 1964 winner Summer Regent, winner of the 1963 Cox Plate.
The Craven Plate list of winners gets even stronger, it seems.
We have Price Grant in 1966 and 1968 with the 1967 winner Winfreux in between. Prince Grant also won the Derby in 1965.
Winfreux won 21 black type races and placed second in two Cox Plates.
Reluctantly, we are skipping over Roman Consul (1969), Planet Kingdom (1970), Regal Rhythm (1971) and Leica Lover (1974).
Battle Heights from 1976 won many major races, including the Sydney Cup in 1974, along with the 1974 Cox Plate.
Our 1978 winner, Ming Dynasty, won the Caulfield Cup in 1977 and again in 1980.
The race was not held from 1979 – 1983 and it is outside our imagination to supply a reason. Yes, this was a Principal and is now a Group 3 race, but events of this magnitude are seldom abandoned without cause.
Hayai was a dual winner from 1984 and 1985.
This lesser-known winner, by comparison to the others, was quite capable, with two wins in The Metropolitan and a 1983 Caulfield Cup victory.
We are compelled to fast forward ahead to 1999, when the Craven Plate was won by Tie The Knot.
He won 13 Group 1 races, including the Sydney Cup (1998, 1999), the Chipping Norton Stakes (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002), the BMW Stakes (1999, 2000) and the Ranvet Stakes (2000, 2001). He amassed over $6.2 million in prizemoney by winning or placing in 38 races and even the races in which he did not place, he ran well enough to receive a pay envelope.
The next real notable winner we discover was Mummify from 2005.
Mummify won over $5 million, part of which came from winning the Caulfield Cup in 2003. His first major win was the Group 1 SA Derby in 2003 and it was taking the like of Lonhro and Makybe Diva to prevent him from winning more. Over $1.2 million of his over $5 million in career earnings came from a 2005 win in the Inter Cup, a Group 1 race in Singapore.
It’s Somewhat won the Craven Plate in 2016.
His first major win was a Group 3 at Warwick Farm. There were only three competitors when he won the Craven Plate when he jumped a short $1.55 and not even Chris Waller’s Spirt Jim steered by Hugh Bowman came within five lengths of beating It’s Somewhat. His big win was the 2017 Group 1 Doncaster Handicap, which we mention because he beat Happy Clapper, the 2019 Craven Plate winner.
Happy Clapper from 2019 won over $7.3 million by winning his own Doncaster in 2018, the 2017 Epsom Handicap and other good races, but we will always recall him fondly for his attempts to catch Winx.
A replay of the 2019 Craven Plate can be found at the link below, with our sincere thanks to Conor MacDonald, who does such a great job at uploading the races to YouTube. If you’re reading this Conor, please take a look at your video, as you have made the honest typo by calling Happy Clapper Happy Clapped. We have done similar, as well as worse, so no worries.
Finally, when Think It Over won the Craven Plate in 2020 and 2021, he became the first dual winner in 35 years since Hayai in 1984 and 1985.
Often, when we write about Group 3 races, we often struggle to find something about which to write. In the case of the Craven Plate, though, we had to struggle to keep the article from running out to 10,000 or more words.
The winners we skipped were obviously good horses, considering the calibre of some of the winners immediately preceding or subsequent.
Cox Plates, Caulfield Cups, Melbourne Cups, along with all the top races on the Australian Thoroughbred racing calendar have all been won on many occasions by winners of the Craven Plate.
Craven Plate Past Winners
|Year||Craven Plate Winners|
|2021||Think It Over|
|2020||Think It Over|
|2018||Moss 'n' Dale|
|2011||My Kingdom Of Fife|
|2010||C'est le Guerre|
|2003||Shower Of Roses|
|1999||Tie The Knot|
|1874||Maid Of Avenel|