The Group 2 Expressway Stakes is a weight for age sprint race of 1200 metres that is held on a Saturday meeting at Rosehill Racecourse in Sydney.
Depending on how the calendar plays out, the Expressway Stakes will take place in late January or early February.
There is $200,000 in prizemoney available.
History of the Expressway Stakes
The Expressway Stakes jumped for the first time in 1974, so it is a newer race. It was considered a Principal race until 1979, after which it was granted Group 2 status.
The race is aptly named, because it has been run at just about every metro Sydney racecourse. It began at Royal Randwick until it was switched to Warwick Farm for 1983 while Randwick was spelling while upgrades were underway.
The Expressway Stakes returned to Randwick for the 1984 edition, and then went back to Warwick for 1985 and 1986.
We will not list every year the race changed venues because it has done so many times. It even found itself at Canterbury Park for the year 2008.
The Expressway Stakes was at Randwick in 2020 and it would appear that the race’s permanent home will be Rosehill going forward, but given the way the race has shifted over the years, it is not something upon which we would choose to have a punt.
The trip has changed almost as much as the venue, beginning as 1100 metres, lengthening to 1200 and even making it out to 1300 metres for 1999.
The year 2004 saw it being run at 1180 metres, which sounds like something that might happen at Randwick, where the race was run that year, in order to accommodate swampy conditions that often influence Sydney racing at that time of the season.
Race Venue of the Expressway Stakes
If we make the leap and trust the racing authorities that the Group 2 Expressway Stakes will stay at Rosehill Gardens Racecourse going forward, we can tell readers that the track is operated by the Australian Turf Club in the western Sydney suburb of Rosehill.
Rosehill opened in 1885 and is situated about 20 kilometres northwest from Sydney’s CBD.
Calling Rosehill Gardens Racecourse an oval might be considered offensive by true ovals.
All four turns feature a different radius. Turn three is tight, while the turn into the home straight is graduated, similar to turn two, which is really a continuation of the first turn.
The finishing straight in front of the main stands is just over 400 metres.
The big event staged at Rosehill is the Golden Slipper Stakes for 2YOs in the latter part of March. The other big race is the Golden Eagle for four-year-olds and offering over $7 million in prizemoney.
Rosehill stages nine Group 1, 13 Group 2 and 14 Group 3 races in a typical year.
Racing History of the Group 2 Expressway Stakes
The winner of the 2020 Expressway Stakes was Standout.
Standout showed promise early on, winning three consecutive in spring of 2019, followed by a second in his first jump at Group 2 level in the Roman Consul Stakes. He trialed a couple of times before winning the Expressway Stakes, but he declined to a degree and the best result he posted following that win was a second in the Group 3 Sydney Stakes in spring of 2020.
Alizee was the 2019 winner and Trapeze Artist won in 2019. Alizee won by beating Le Romain in a race that saw only five horses running, and then went on to win the Group 1 Futurity Stakes at Caulfield. She made some other good runs, but at times, it seems she spent most of her racing energy on barrier trials.
Trapeze Artist won another Expressways Stakes with a small field, this one six. He picked up a big payday when he ran second to Redzel in The Everest in 2018.
The race does attract some of the better horses, many of which are in their autumn preparations and using the Expressway Stakes as a measure of form for the major sprints that come along in March and April.
As a weight for age race, it might be expected that there would be plenty of multiple winners, but this is not the case. Only Court’s In Session won back-to-back in 2005 and 2006.
The better horses seldom came back for an encore in the Expressway Stakes, while those that did return failed to double.
Lonhro won in 2003 and devoted the rest of the year to winning major races, including the Group 1s George Ryder Stakes, a second Caulfield Stakes, the George Main Stakes, Queen Elizabeth and Chipping Norton Stakes. He went on to become a champion sire and he earned induction into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2014.
Tie The Knot won in 2001 while using the race for training. The four-time Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes winner won a total of 13 Group 1 races and demonstrated the sort of versatility to earn the nod as the Australian Champion Stayer in 2000. His wins in the 3200 metre Sydney Cup in 1998 and 1999 leaves us wondering what he was doing in a sprint race, but that question is better left to his trainer Guy Walter.
Saintly won in 1996 to go along with his trophy for winning that year’s Cox Plate and the Melbourne Cup for trainer Bart Cummings.
Far and away the most notable to win the Expressway Stakes was Kingston Town in 1980. His record is well chronicled and will not be rehashed here.
Luskin Star won in 1978 in mid-career and is best known for winning the Australian two-year-old Triple Crown.
Finally, Zephyr Bay won the Expressway Stakes in 1975, the same year he won the Oakleigh Plate and the Challenge Stakes before going on to sire multiple stakes and Group 1 winners.
The Group 2 Expressway Stakes is often overlooked by trainers and connections, at least so it would seem by the number of times the race has had small fields.
Still, it serves as a good guide to some of the major autumn races that come later in the season, as even though the fields can be small, they are talented.
|Year||Expressway Stakes Winners|
|2016||Our Boy Malachi|
|2006||Court's In Session|
|2005||Court's In Session|
|2001||Tie The Knot|