The Group 3 Doncaster Prelude is a quality handicap race of 1500 metres for all genders aged three and above held at Rosehill Racecourse during the autumn racing season.
Prize money for the race has grown to $200,000. That figure is a $40k increase from 2022.
Doncaster Prelude Race Details
Race Distance: 1500m
Prize Money: $200,000
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When Is The Doncaster Prelude: 30-3-24
What Time Is The Doncaster Prelude: TBA
Where Is The Doncaster Prelude: Rosehill Racecourse
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More Details About The Doncaster Prelude
Uber trainer Chris Waller had half of the 16-horse field as runners under his banner, but the win went to Bandersnatch, a gelding with impressive ancestors that races for the Hawkes boys, such as Flying Spur and the significant sire Danehill, with some equally impressive relatives on the side of dam Divine Faith, including Norther Dancer and Nearctic.
Bandersnatch is just shy of the $1 million in earnings benchmark from 36 jumps for 10 wins and 8 placings. That is rather good for a horse that has never won above Group 3 grade.
After a comfortable two-length win in the Prelude, Bandersnatch posted a 13th in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (aka. Doncaster Handicap) and backed that with a good fourth in the Group 1 All-Aged Stakes.
He received the top prize of $110,000 for his 1500 metres of work at Rosehill, where he jumped third favourite.
There was a time when the Doncaster Prelude was run alongside the Golden Slipper Stakes, but races in all jurisdictions are often moved around to suit the calendar and the various races that make up the schedule.
In 2023, the race was run at a Rosehill meeting that featured the Group 1 H. E. Tancred Stakes and the Group 1 Storm Queen Stakes. The other major races on the day were the Group 2 Emancipation Stakes and the Group 2 Tulloch Stakes. There were also four Group 3 races on the day, so quality racing abounded.
The winner of the Doncaster Prelude receives a ballot exemption for the Group 1 Doncaster Mile, where a win would result in another ballot exemption – this one to the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Another bonus to winning the Prelude is that there is no weight penalty for the quality handicap running conditions of the Doncaster Mile.
History of the Doncaster Prelude
The registered name for the Doncaster Prelude is the Royal Parma Stakes. As best we could ascertain, Royal Parma won the Golden Slipper Stakes in 1968 and the 1970 Canterbury Cup as his major wins. We do not think that there should be a race in honour of Royal Parma and that may have been the thinking of the racing honchos in NSW, as they changed the name of the race to the Doncaster Prelude when the Australian Jockey Club and the Sydney Turf Club merger took place in 2010.
The race was inaugurated in 1985 as the Royal Parma Stakes. It jumped for one year as the Caravan Stakes in 1992 before returning as the Royal Parma Stakes in 1993. That name lasted until 1998, when it became the unfortunately named Concept Sports Stakes. In what almost appears to be a cycle, it was the Royal Parma Stakes again for six years from 1999 – 2004, when it was the Allied Express Stakes in 2005.
It resumed being the Royal Parma Stakes in 2006, becoming the Doncaster Prelude in 2010 and destroying any pattern that the earlier names might have suggested.
The trip for the race has been almost equally as variable as the name. It started as 1500 metres, and then alternated between 1500 and 1400 metres before jumping from 2010 – 2013 as a 1600-metre race. That trip would seem to make sense considering the ballot exemption for the 1600 metre Doncaster Mile. The race has been 1400 metres since 2014.
It began life as a Listed grade race and was awarded Group 3 status in 2011.
The race has been somewhat nomadic as to the venue.
It was initially at Rosehill all the way from inception through 2009. Randwick took over from 2010 through 2013, with a return to Rosehill for 2014 to 2021.
It was necessary to move the Doncaster Prelude to Newcastle in 2022. The race resumed running at Rosehill in 2023.
Venue for the Doncaster Prelude
We consider Rosehill Gardens Racecourse in Sydney to be the true home of the Doncaster Prelude.
Rosehill opened for racing in 1885. As of 2023, the venue is host to nine Group 1, 13 Group 2 and 14 Group 3 races annually.
The Golden Slipper Stakes is the most famous race associated with the track, but in 2019, Rosehill got its own mega-million-dollar race with the Golden Eagle for four-year-olds that offers $10 million in prize money.
For 1500-metre races at Rosehill, the barriers are placed at the end of a chute on the northeast side of the track, giving the racers a 450-metre straight run to a continuous turn that connects the straights. From there the final dash to the finish leads north to the grandstands at the northwest side of the track.
Racing History of the Doncaster Prelude
Our first glance at the names of the horses that have won the Doncaster Prelude makes us want to ask a question.
Who, or should we say, what?
The only immediately recognisable name was that of the 2020 winner was that of Cascadian. Cascadian would go on to win the Doncaster Handicap, but not until 2021. When he tried the race in 2020, the ballot exemption did not help him to finish better than ninth.
More on Cascadian later.
The other thing that struck us was that no galloper has ever won the race twice, which is intriguing, given that the age conditions of the race are age three years and over.
We will dive into the list looking for big earners and better breeders, along with any major race victories at higher grade.
The first winner in 1985 was Bring Home.
Bring Home never brought much home. Other than the Prelude in 1985, he won the 1984 Carbine Club Stakes (AJC version – the VRC also has a Carbine Club Stakes).
He had a desultory table of ancestors on his sire Francis Bacon’s side – mostly Brit and U.S. horses. The dam, Australia’s Little Cumquot, was by Todman and her damsire was THE Star Kingdom.
From this point forward, we will be skipping any Doncaster Prelude winners that do not offer a compelling reason to examine them closely, such as using the ballot exemption to win the Doncaster Mile, won other major top grade races, or contributed DNA to one or more better types.
A better gelding named Eastern Classic won in 1987.
This Kiwi racer was by the three-time Group 1 winning New Zealand sire Balmerino.
Eastern Classic had 18 wins, including the Group 1 All-Aged Stakes in 1990, where he beat the notable Shaftesbury Avenue.
We would probably skip 1989 winner Card Shark, other than for the fact that to win the Doncaster Prelude, he had to beat 1989 Melbourne Cup winner Tawrrific.
We encounter a bit of galloper-naming creativity for the 1995 winner, Salivate.
Not sure why anyone thought to name a horse Salivate, but it sure gives us some ideas for horse names.
The 1996 winner must have borne a strong resemblance to us because many lovelies in the boozers thought to call us Buzzoff. More creativity.
Buzzoff did not create much on the turf and the Doncaster Prelude victory was the high-water mark of this gelding’s career.
The 1997 winner was Ravarda.
This horse earned over $1 million with seven wins, including the Group 1 Castlemaine Classic in Queensland in 1995. His interesting accomplishment was finishing behind Our Maizcay for second ahead of Octagonal for third in the 1995 Group 1 Caulfield Guineas.
Ravarda’s other good win was the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes in 1996, beating Flying Spur into third.
He ducked as a sire, well, one named foal.
Adam by Rubiton was the Doncaster Prelude winner in 1999.
He won nearly $2 million from his 51 jumps, with a form line of 12 wins and 17 placings. Adam had an easier win in the Prelude, but his free pass to the Doncaster Mile found him having the misfortune to be in the same race as Sunline, where she crossed three lengths ahead of his fourth.
He did beat Sunline in the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes in 1999. His 2000 win in the Group 1 George Main Stakes featured him beating Mr. Innocent and Al Mansour. A great win by Adam was the 1999 Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap.
He sired dozens of foals. His top stakes producer was a 2003 gelding named Let Me Adam that won a little above $405,000.
Le Zagaletta was a $1.3 million prize money producer that won in 2000.
He was by Last Tycoon and this grey gelding made 65 jumps for 14 wins and 20 placings. He was 17th when he tried the Doncaster Mile after the Prelude win. Later in his career, 2004, he took the Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes ahead of Elvstroem.
The 2001 winner was Final Fantasy.
He was a good gelding with 41 jumps for seven wins and six placings that returned $808,000 in prize money.
A measure of his ability beyond his Group 1 win in the 2001 Epsom Handicap was his finish ahead of Sunline in the 2001 Group 1 All-Aged Stakes. Another measure is that when he used the ballot exemption to try the Doncaster Mile, he was ninth across in a field that included Assertive Lad (winner) and Shogun Lodge (second).
The 2002 winner, Defier, was a better than good gelding with almost $3 million from just 34 jumps for 10 wins and 14 placings.
He raced in company that included the likes of Lonhro, Bomber Bill, Sunline, Shogun Lodge, Grand Armee, Mummify and Northerly, to name a few.
Yet, he managed to win at Group 1 grade three times.
The first was the 2002 Group 1 George Main Stakes, where he relegated Sunline to third. That same year found him winning the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
He beat Lonhro in his start previous to the Q.E. Stakes to take the post in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes. His final Group 1 win was the 2004 Doomben Cup.
His ballot exemption to the Prelude was thwarted by the winner, Sunline, and the second-placer Shogun Lodge, leaving Defier with the third place scraps.
A better type that won the race in 2008 was the gelding Valedictum.
He won above $1.2 million from 58 jumps for 12 wins and 8 placings. Three years prior, Valedictum took first in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes.
The Pom import My Kingdom Of Fife was the winner in 2011.
He raced in England before coming to Australia. He was unusual to the extent that after winning the Doncaster Prelude, he won at Group 1 level, but not the Doncaster. His Group 1 win was the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick.
We finally found a mare in the 2013 winner Skyerush.
She won nearly $1 million from 45 jumps for 11 wins and 19 placings. While she never won above Group 2 grade, she was an outlier in that her win in the Prelude was in her third-last jump.
She stood just long enough to supply six foals, but nothing notable.
At the risk of redundancy, the French gelding Weary was the winner in 2014.
Weary had energy sufficient to reel in a haul of $954,000 from 34 jumps for four wins and 10 placings. He raced in Europe, coming down as a four-year-old to win the Prelude, run second in the 2014 All-Aged Stakes followed by a third place run in the Doncaster Mile.
A better sort won the 2019 Doncaster Prelude. Mister Sea Wolf was an Irish gelding imported in 2017 after racing extensively in the British Isles. He beat Yulong Prince in a Group 2 race during a career that found him racing alongside The Bostonian, Savatiano, Tom Melbourne and others. He was third in the 2018 Doncaster Prelude won by Cellarman. His 2019 win put Tom Melbourne into third.
The 2020 winner, Cascadian, is most vigorously our response to the “What was this one doing in this race?”
This top gelding won over $8.2 million from 48 jumps for 11 wins and 14 placings.
This Brit import was highly Irish in blood, winning the Group 1 Doncaster Mile in the year subsequent to winning the Prelude. His win in the 2022 All-Aged Stakes came against Tofane after Tofane had beaten Cascadian in the 2022 C. F. Orr Stakes. The 2023 Group 1 Australian Cup was a jewel in his $8 million crown.
Since he is by far the class of the Doncaster Prelude winner, here is the replay of Cascadian winning in 2020.
The year the Doncaster Prelude was held at Newcastle, Mr. Mozart was the winner. He was by Snitzel with Redoute’s Choice for grandsire. Other good connections extend to Danehill, Snippets and Canny Lad. He was one of the younger winners of the race.
The Doncaster Prelude presented some unique history.
Foremost to us was that only one mare won.
Geldings have predominantly won the race, many of which recorded multiple wins, but on country tracks in the initial stages of their careers.
Many of the winners were able to win the Doncaster Prelude over better horses.
The main thing was that it seemed as though many of the winners had predominantly foreign lines, even in the realm of shuttle stallions. Some winners had scant Australian or New Zealand blood in many instances.
Doncaster Prelude Past Winners
|2019||Mister Sea Wolf|
|2011||My Kingdom Of Fife|