The Group 1 Doncaster Mile is one of Australia’s legacy races.
It was first run in 1866, just five years after the first Melbourne Cup.
Doncaster Mile Race Details
Race Distance: 1600m
Prize Money: $3,000,000
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When Is The Doncaster Mile: 6/4/24
What Time Is The Doncaster Mile: TBA
Where Is The Doncaster Mile: Randwick Racecourse
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More Details About The Doncaster Mile
The race is held at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney, where is covers 1600 metres. It is contested by horses of either gender, so long as they are at least three years of age. It is part of the autumn racing in Sydney and is typically run in early April at a meeting that three additional Group 1 races, those being the T J Smith Stakes, the Australian Derby and the Sires’ Produce Stakes.
The running conditions are Handicap with a minimum of 49.5 kg.
Prizemoney for the race is $3 million as of 2021. That was double the prizemoney from 2020, but even $1.5 million attracted the top milers.
Cascadian was the 2021 winner. Foaled in 2015, he is still racing and the most recent information we have at this moment is that he won the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes at Caulfield.
Cascadian’s win in the 2021 Doncaster Mile saw Jamie Kah doing the steering while carrying 53 kg from the third barrier. The victory was good for the first place prize of $1.74 million. Cascadian earned some bonus money of some sort as well, increasing his take to $1.879 million.
History of the Doncaster Mile
The Doncaster Mile is a vintage race and therefore has a rich and illustrious history. The race has been run continuously since 1866 and neither two World Wars nor the equine influenza outbreak in 2007 that resulted in many races in New South Wales being abandoned could prevent the running of the race. Rain did prevent the race from jumping as scheduled in 2015, but it was held two days later, on a Monday.
Tradition had the race always running on Easter Monday, but the nature of Easter and its jumping around the calendar might have created some confusion. The exact date of Easter always baffles us. Now the race is run on the first day of the ATC Championship Carnival at Royal Randwick.
The race was always classified as a Principal race until the Group classification system was installed in 1979, at which time the race was immediately granted Group 1 status.
The trip has always been 1600 metres since 1885, although from 1979 to 1884, it was stretched to nine furlongs (1800 metres). It might have been considered as a mile race in the years just ahead of metrication, but there has been none of that distance shifting we see in many Victorian races, where it almost seems as though they are customizing the trip to suit certain gallopers.
They began to refer to the race as the Doncaster Mile in 2010. It has a good sound to it, much better than the Doncaster 1600, even though Doncaster Mile is the name many others and we use.
Venue for the Doncaster Mile
Like the grade and the trip, the venue for the Doncaster Mile has always been Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney.
Randwick hosts about 45 meetings every year. It is the largest and best-known course in NSW. It is operated by the Australian Turf Club (ATC) and its premier event would be the Australian Derby, although it would be find by us if someone were to say that since 2017, the big show has been The Everest.
Randwick opened in 1833.
As of early 2022, Randwick hosts 20 Group 1, 18 Group 2 and 11 Group 3 races.
Racing History of the Doncaster Mile
The Doncaster Mile has always featured the top gallopers in Australia. It managed to attract 30 of the best as starters in 1892.
The current field is capped at 20 and it usually has a full field, other than those years when there are last minute scratchings.
Without an upper age restriction, the race has supplied many multiple winners, including some of Australia’s greatest. Interestingly, some of the best have won the race only once and none has ever won the race three times.
The winner of the inaugural running of the Doncaster Mile in 1866 was Dundee. His sire was Whalebone of Australia and his dam was Zingara of New Zealand. The earlier members of the line were mostly from Great Britain. Four generation back on his dam’s side, the line disappears as is not uncommon from that far back in time.
There was a dead heat in 1871 between Sir William and Lottery and that is the only time the race was tied.
Knowing, as we do, the skimpy nature of racing and race records from those early days, we are jumping forward to 1876, the year the legendary mare Briseis won the race.
Briseis was a superb racer, both in speed and versatility. She was two when she won the Doncaster, as she was when she won the All Aged Stakes. At three, she won the Victoria Derby by three lengths in record time, and then won the Melbourne Cup by two lengths, finishing up with a win in the VRC Oaks.
Three race wins, you say? Nothing exceptional about that, other than the fact that those three wins came in the span of six days.
Briseis never had the opportunity to pass her speed and stamina to another generation. She died in her fist few weeks at stud after rearing, falling backward and fracturing her skull.
We next see Wakeful winning in 1901 and the Doncaster Mile still did not have a multiple winner.
Like Briseis, Wakeful is considered one of the great Australian mares. She was also versatile like Briseis, winning at trips from 1100 metres to 4800 metres. She made 44 jumps for 25 wins (same number as Black Caviar) and 16 placings, so she was unplaced in just three races.
Wakeful’s major wins along the Doncaster Mile were two Caulfield Stakes (1901 and 1902), three Melbourne Stakes (1901, 1902 and 1903). She won the Sydney Cup in 1902.
She did all this despite not racing until she was four. She did produce a second in the 1903 Melbourne Cup carrying over seven kilograms above weight-for-age and almost 10 kilograms above the impost of that year’s winner, Lord Cardigan.
In her seasons as a five, six and seven-year-old galloper, she was first or second in every race in which she jumped, except for an unplaced in the 1901 Melbourne Cup, a third in the 1903 Futurity Stakes and an unplaced in the 1903 Caulfield Stakes.
Wakeful produced 10 foals after going to stud. Her best was 1918 Melbourne Cup winner Night Watch.
From 1901 and Wakeful, we next look at 1924 Doncaster Mile winner Whittier. The Doncaster by this time had jumped 58 times without providing a multiple winner.
Whittier was one of the best of his era. When he won the Doncaster in 1924, he already had a Caulfield Cup win in his quiver from 1922. He won a second in 1925. Other big wins were the 1922 Victoria Derby the Rawson Stakes, two Underwood Stakes and one each Warwick Stakes, C F Orr Stakes and St. George Stakes.
On the eve of Whittier’s first Caulfield Cup win, with his owner Ben Chaffey holding bets of as much as 100/1 on his horse, a local Melbourne underworld figure name Squizzie Taylor turned arsonist and burned down the official stand at Caufield. Squizzie, which would have been a great name for a galloper, might have been disgruntled that his nomination of himself to run in the Caulfield Cup was turned down due to the VRC’s strict horses only policy.
Chatham came along to win in 1934, so the tally of Doncaster Miles without a multiple winner had grown to 68.
He was the first of three consecutive greats to win the Doncaster Mile.
Like Whittier before him, Chatham was already a big winner when he won the Doncaster. He had won the Craven Plate two times, the Epsom Handicap twice, with one Cox Plate, one Hill Stakes, three Linlithgow Stakes and one Warwick Stakes already in the bag. The year of 1934 would deliver another Cox Plate, Craven Plate, Warwick Stakes and one All Aged Stakes.
The next notable from that golden era was 1935 winner Hall Mark.
Hall Mark could easily be a topic for an entire article. His signature win was the 1933 Melbourne Cup, so the pattern of great horses winning the Doncaster in the latter stages of their careers is intact.
Cuddle was the final winner, in 1936, of that remarkable three-year stretch of champion Doncaster winners.
Cuddle was a New Zealand mare that won big races there. Racing in Australia, her significant wins were, in addition to the Doncaster, the All Aged Stakes and the St. George Stakes.
We must mention Gold Rod as the 1939 winner.
He won 12 other major races in addition to the Doncaster. When he won the Hill Stakes for the first time in 1938, he beat the dual Cox Plate champion Young Idea.
Our first dual winner appears in 1940 and 1941 in a stallion named Mildura.
He did not leave much by way of a racing record, but was apparently good enough to do twice what no other had been able to do since the inception of the Doncaster in 1866.
Once that duck had been broken, the dual winners came in fairly rapid succession.
First was Blue Legend in 1946 and 1947. Then there was Slogan II from 1956 and 1957, followed by Tudor Hill in 1959 and 1960.
Following Blue Legend’s second win, 1961 winner Fine And Dandy skipped a year before winning his second Doncaster in 1963. This is our first instance of discovering Star Kingdom in the lines of a Doncaster winner. Star Kingdom was Fine And Dandy’s sire.
The 1967 winner, Tobin Bronze, has appeared on many of our historical racing articles. We will briefly mention his two Cox Plate wins and his Caulfield Cup victory as a small sample of the major races won by Tobin Bronze.
Gunsynd’s name appears on the winners list for 1972. He is another legend that has frequently appeared on our pages.
Our next notable winner was Emancipation for 1983.
Between 1982 and 1984, Emancipation won many major races. She was one of those instances where great ancestors did produce a great racer. Her sire was Bletchingly, her grandsire Biscay and her great grandsire Star Kingdom. On her dam side were Ammo Girl and Gunsynd, with Star Kingdom represented four generations back.
A true champion and a dual winner was Super Impose in 1990 and 1991. He was the sort that we love here at PGR for making 74 jumps. He won the Cox Plate in 1992 and he did something no other ever has by winning the Doncaster and the Epsom Handicap twice in the same years.
The next dual winner was Pharaoh in 1994 and 1995.
Pharaoh won over $2 million. The 1995 win would prove to be his last and in 12 jumps following that win, Pharaoh never ran better than fourth.
Sunline lands on the Doncaster winners’ list for 1999. She performed the rare feat of winning the race for a second time with two intervening years until her second win in 2002. She had other dual wins in the All Aged Stakes the Waikato Sprint and the Coolmore Classic, although she will be most remembered for winning the Cox Plate in 1999 and 2000.
By this time, the Doncaster Mile was supplying great gallopers at a rapid pace.
Grand Armee, from 2003, ran unplaced only five times from 31 jumps, was a two-time winner of the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and was the Australian Middle Distance Champion in 2005.
For 2007, we find Haradasun, winner of over $2.7 million. He made just 18 jumps and won seven with eight placings and only three unplaced jumps. At stud, it could be said that Haradasun was more about quantity than quality, but goodness, what a quantity. His top five progeny won million in stakes.
The 2012 winner was More Joyous, another champion whose name has appeared often on our pages. Like Grand Armee, More Joyous was an Australian Middle Distance Champion, with that honour coming to her in 2012. Twenty-one wins from 30 jumps and over $4.4 million in earnings and eight Group 1 wins are a nice summation of her career.
Another dual winner appears in 2013 and 2014 in the name of Sacred Falls.
He was a great racer that was sent to the sheds after 22 jumps and over $4.6 million in prizemoney. He did okay as a sire, but his stud career was cut short by liver disease in late 2019.
Winx won the Doncaster in 2016, so here are a few words about the mare that inspired millions of words. Everyone even vaguely familiar with racing knows about the four Cox Plates. We have an extensive profile of Winx on our website.
Happy Clapper was the 2018 winner.
That win made us happy, as he has always been a favourite of ours. He raced well into old age. Unlike many other of his contemporaries, Happy Clapper did not hide in the barn when he saw the saddle on Winx. The credit for that goes to his trainer Patrick Webster and his owner/breeder Michael Thomas, but when we saw race fields of five and six horses in Group 1 races when Winx was entered, we grew to appreciate Happy Clapper. He finished second in the Doncaster the previous two years.
A replay of Happy Clapper’s 2018 Doncaster win can be seen here.
Brutal (2019), Nettoyer (2020) and Cascadian (2021) complete the list of Doncaster Mile winners.
The Doncaster Mile has an illustrious history as one of Australia’s top mile races.
The winners’ list is replete with Hall of Fame gallopers, trainers and owners.
So many notable winners necessitated many good horses being overlooked, but just because we did not have room to mention them does not detract from their abilities.
Doncaster Mile Past Winners
|2009||Vision And Power|
|2006||Racing To Win|
|1985||Row Of Waves|
|1982||My Gold Hope|
|1965||Time And Tide|
|1963||Fine And Dandy|
|1961||Fine And Dandy|