George Main, the race’s namesake, was a chairman of the Australian Jockey Club. We would gladly make a pun about how, in addition to having a race named in his honour, Main Street can be found in thousands of towns in the English-speaking world. Additionally The Rolling Stones spent some amount of time exiled on the street and even titled an album about that period of banishment, although they shortened the album title by eliminating the George.
Thoroughbred punters can be a serious lot, however, so any who read the above are cautioned not to laugh, or even grin ruefully.
The race was classified as a Principal Race until 1978 and was declared Group 1 in 1979. The length of the trip has never varied, save for the slight distance between a mile and 1600 metres.
Sydney super mare Winx owned this race for three years, 2016 – 2018 and her time in 2017 of 1:33.65 is the race record. When she won for the last time in 2018, few were willing to take her on and Chris Waller had four of the seven horses in the field. It would have been five of eight but for the scratching of Unforgotten.
Legendary Thoroughbred trainer T. J. Smith did Winx better, fielding the winner of the George Main Stakes 11 times.
The race was known as the Colgate Optic White Stakes 2015 – 2019, but the sponsorship did not produce the desired boost in toothpaste sales, so the 2020 race is being called the Fujitsu George Main Stakes. Detailed History of the George Main Stakes
A horse named Modulation won the race the first time it was run in 1945. It must have been a heady day to be at Royal Randwick, as World War II had officially ended with the Japanese surrender on 2 September 1945.
1946 – 1947 George Main Stakes Winner: Shannon
The next two years, 1946 – 47 belonged to Shannon. This fine specimen of a horse was winning what today would be classified as Group 1 races at a steady clip between 1944 and 1948. The George Main Stakes was the only feature he won twice, but some of his other wins were the 1944 AJC Sires Produce Stakes, 1945 Epsom Handicap and the 1947 Canterbury Stakes.
Shannon was exported to the U.S. and won five major races on dirt tracks. He was honoured with the TSD American Champion Older Male Horse in 1948 and inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2006.
Rosehill Racecourse stages the Group 2 Shannon Stakes in his honour.
1963 – Wenona Girl
No slight intended toward the 1949 – 1962 winners. The George Main Stakes is too good a race to be won by untalented horses. It is just that many of them are not well known outside of racing circles and may have considered the George Main win the crowning achievement of a racing career.
Wenona Girl, on the other hand, could be considered something of a Black Caviar and Winx precursor.
She won 22 Principal Races, 15 of which would be declared Group 1 when the current system came along in 1979. Interesting is that from all those wins, the only race she won twice was the Rawson Stakes in 1961 and 1964.
It is difficult to name her best win, but solid candidates would be the BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes in 1960, or the All Aged Stakes in 1964.
She was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008 and Randwick Racecourse run the Group 3 Wenona Girl Handicap during the autumn.
1964 – 1968 Five George Main Stakes Races Three Winners
Weight-for-age racing offers that delectable element that supplies good horses with the opportunity for multiple wins.
Count Radiant won the George Main Stakes in 1964 and 1965. He was a New Zealand horse with an impressive pedigree that includes some great ones, such as Helios, Hyperion and Gainsborough and others. Count Radiant was good enough to win two George Main Stakes, but not much else.
Chantal won in 1966, setting the stage for Regal Rhythm to win in 1967 and 1968.
Regal Rhythm was a good horse by any measure and shared some of the ancestors responsible for Count Radiant. He had another double by twice winning the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes in 1967 and 1972 and it appears that he might have prevented none other than Gunsynd from winning three Ranvets in a row with the 1972 win, back when the Ranvet was the Rawson Stakes.
1971 – Baguette
Along with making us desire a nice loaf of warm French bread, 1971 George Main winner Baguette was the first winner of the Two Year Old Triple Crown in 1970 by winning the Golden Slipper Stakes, the AJC Sires’ Produce and the AJC Champagne Stakes. In 1971, Baguette was dominant to a great extent, winning seven times, including the Doomben 10,000, Canterbury and Hill Stakes, and the Newmarket Handicap, to mention a few.
Baguette retired after 31 starts, winning or placing 26 times, and became a good sire.
1979 – Imposing
The 1979 George Main Stakes winner Imposing most likely had great expectations placed on him. He was by Todman, a horse that did well as a juvenile and concluded after 12 races having won 10 of those races.
Imposing did not exactly follow in Todman’s hoof steps, but he made trainer T. J. Smith look good. Make that look better. Imposing’s big wins along with the George Main were the Stradbroke and Epsom Handicaps, both in 1979.
Imposing sired six Group 1 winners. One was Imposera, winner of the 1984 Australasian Oaks and the Caulfield Cup. The other significant progeny was Super Impose, two-time winner of the Doncaster Handicap, the Epsom Handicap and the Chipping Norton Stakes, with the jewel being the 1984 Cox Plate.
1981 and 1982 – Kingston Town
We have written extensively about Kingston Town and will not go into detail here, other than to mention his three Cox Plate wins and his 1980 Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200 m) win, instead asking our superb editor to insert a Kingston Town link here. Well, we should also mention his second place in the 1982 Melbourne Cup, where it took Cups Double winner Gurner’s Lane to beat him.
1983 – Emancipation
This mare, like Kingston Town, was by Bletchingly, so the George Main Stakes remained in the family 1981 – 1983.
Emancipation’s grandsire was Gunsynd.
Along with the George Main Stakes, in 1983, it seemed as though Emancipation was two or more horses. That same year, she won the George Ryder, Light Fingers, Premier, Canterbury, Chelmsford and Hill Stakes. Throw in one Doncaster Handicap and four major wins in 1984 and it is easy to see why Emancipation was Australian Champion Racehorse of the year in 1984.
Rosehill Racecourse stages the Group 2 Emancipation Stakes in her honour.
1989 – Vo Rogue
Continuing in the tradition of the George Main Stakes of offering up the best horses, 1989 winner Vo Rogue was a slightly different breed in that he went out hard and set up big leads, daring the challengers to catch him.
Like Emancipation, Vo Rogue was a threat to win any race with George as part of the name. He won the St. George Stakes twice to go with his George Main win. Other races won twice by Vo Rogue were the Turnbull and Blamey Stakes, and the Australian Cup.
Vo Rogue’s major claim to fame, however, was three C F Orr Stakes wins 1988 – 90. He was the quintessential working man’s horse, making 83 starts. His name is part of the Australian racing jargon as racecallers often describe front running horses as having “Vo Rogue-style leads.”
He was good enough to beat Bonecrusher, Super Impose, Better Loosen Up and Our Poetic Prince, Cox Plate winners all.
Vo Rogue was inducted into the Queensland Racing Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2019.
The Vo Rogue Plate is staged annually at Gold Coast Racecourse.
1990 – Shaftesbury Avenue
Shaftesbury Avenue was especially strong in 1990 and 1991. He beat the favourite Super Impose in that race, as he did on three other occasions from the eight times the two went head-to-head.
Other big wins by Shaftesbury Avenue were the Honda, Lightning, All-Aged and Caulfield Stakes, along with the Newmarket Handicap.
1999 – Shogun Lodge
The story of Shogun Lodge is a case of what might have been. Along with the George Main, he won many major races, including three Group 1s, but he ran second in 12 more Group 1 races, including a loss by a nose to Sunline in the 2002 Doncaster Mile. Shogun Lodge beat Sunline when he won the George Main.
2003 – Lonhro
The Black Flash won 26 times, with three seconds and two thirds from 35 jumps. The same year he won the George Main, he took out the George Ryder, Caulfield, Queen Elizabeth and Chipping Norton Stakes. He had a Timeform Rating of 128, was the Australia Racehorse of the year in 2004 and the Australian Middle Distance Champion. He was the Australian Champion three Year Old in 2002, World Champion Miler in 2004 and the leading sire in Australia in 2011.
His accomplishments seem almost average, considering he was by Octagonal and claims Zabeel for a grandsire, but his record is most decidedly not average.
Lonhro went into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2014.
It could be said that trainer John Hawkes owes much to Lonhro.
2004 – Grand Armee
Grand Armee would have to be considered one of the top horses ever to come under the guidance of Gai Waterhouse.
The same year he won the George Main, he won the first of his two Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the LKS Mackinnon Stakes. His 13 wins include the Doncaster Handicap and five other Group 1s in addition to the George Main. He won over $5.3 million in prizemoney, winning or placing 26 times from 31 jumps.
Grand Armee beat Lonhro to win the 2004 Queen Elizabeth and he gave Makybe Diva a good run in the 2005 Group 1 BMW Stakes.
2010 – More Joyous
More Joyous was another Gai Waterhouse prepared mare. She won 21 races from 30 jumps. Her first big win was the 2009 Flight Stakes. In the year she won the George Main Stakes, she also won the Toorak Handicap.
More Joyous almost took Gai Waterhouse down and the trainer was fined over two charges of failing to report the mare’s soreness and treatment with antibiotics.
The big controversy, however, was when Gai Waterhouse’s husband, bookmaker Tom Waterhouse over a tip that More Joyous “had no chance” in the 2013 All Aged Stakes.
More Joyous won the Queen of the Turf Stakes twice and the Doncaster Handicap once.
2016 – 2018 – Winx
Nothing more need be said or written about the mare that many consider the greatest Australian racehorse of all time.
The Group 1 George Main Stakes has consistently featured some of the finest Australian horseflesh to take to the turf. The race is a target for trainers and they often prepare their horses with this race as a prime target. Those that run well here are often winners of the Doncaster Handicap and while the field is not always large, it is always quality, as the list of significant winners clearly demonstrates. Many of the horses use this race as the lead up to the Epsom Handicap.
The George Main Stakes is not the oldest nor richest race on the Australian Thoroughbred racing calendar, but it is perfectly poised to get the attention of trainers and connections with visions of Group 1 glory during the spring carnival.
|Year||George Main Stakes Winner|
|2009||Road To Rock|
|2006||Racing To Win|
|1948||De La Salle|