The Group 2 Percy Sykes Stakes is a 1200 metre sprint run under set weight plus penalty conditions by two-year-old fillies during the autumn racing season at the Randwick meeting known as The Championships.
Prize money for the race is $1 million now that the race is part of The Championships at Randwick.
Percy Sykes Stakes Race Details
Race Distance: 1200m
Prize Money: $1,000,000
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When Is The Percy Sykes Stakes: 13/4/24
What Time Is The Percy Sykes Stakes: TBA
Where Is The Percy Sykes Stakes: Randwick Racecourse
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More Details About The Percy Sykes Stakes
Kristilli took the top prize of $580,000 in 2023. She jumped wide for $19 and won by nearly two lengths from a field of ten where she was longer than all but four of the others. As part of The Championships at Randwick, the Percy Sykes Stakes represents another instance, alongside the Arrowfield 3YO Sprint, of a Group 2 race offering lucrative Group 1 stakes in order to bring all the better types to the meeting.
History of the Percy Sykes Stakes
Inaugurated in 1960, the race was known as and is still registered as the Keith Mackay Handicap. There was a pom general/noble named Percy Sykes that omitted the middle portion of his name – Molesworth – thus denying us the chance to call the race the Molesworth Sykes Stakes.
Since it is true that only the Royal Family has Australian races named for it, we were able to determine that the Oz man Percy Sykes was a humble horse veterinarian who saved the life of Tulloch when that mighty galloper contracted an inexplicable stomach disorder that sent him off the turf for two years.
Keith Mackay was an AJC chairman whose name served the race until 2014, when it spent one year as the Royal Randwick Stakes with Percy Sykes Stakes being used from 2015. Keith Mackay, Percy Sykes – it almost sounds like a ring in.
The race grade has a logical progression from Principal to Listed in 1979, to Group 3 beginning in 2014 and Group 2 since 2017.
The race has mostly been 1200 metres, or the equivalent trip in furlongs, except for two jumps in the early 70s and two in the mid-80s where 1400 metres was used.
It has been 1200 metres since 1986.
Venue for the Percy Sykes Stakes
The race has called Randwick home since its 1960 inception and every year since without interruption.
Randwick holds, but some margin, the rights to claim more Group grade races than any other metro track can claim.
As of 2023, there are 20 Group 1 races, some of the most prestigious events of racing, including The Everest, a special conditions race with $15 million in prize money.
The track got its start in 1833, but by the 1840s, it had languished to the extent that it was used for training purposes only. A resurrection of sorts came in the 1860s when the Australian Jockey Club made Randwick their headquarters.
The racers jump from a chute that allows for a mostly straight run of 600 metres before the one and only turn for 1200 metre races. The home straight of 410 metres brings the horses to the finish line in front of the stands of the east side of the course.
Racing History of the Percy Sykes Stakes
For more years than any other grade, 34 years, the Percy Sykes Stakes was a Listed grade race. The first 18 years were held at Principal grade before the Group classification system was invoked. Group 3 was just three jumps from 2014 – 2016, so it would be fair to say that the race truly came into its own in 2014 to attract better types and the Group 2 grade has been just six years to date.
The appealing aspect of a two-year-old filly race is finding which of the juveniles went on to solid racing careers and/or supplied noteworthy foals, so that is how we will approach the winners’ list.
The first filly to win the race was Primrose Lane in 1960.
Her stud output of two fillies and two colts foaled in France, with two of the four supplying nine victories.
From this point forward, any fillies that failed to make an impression on the sport of racing through major wins, large stakes earnings, beating better types or supplying notable offspring will be overlooked.
The 1961 winner was Cymbal and she was the product of Star Kingdom from Gold Gleam. Other than her famous dad, there is not much to mention about Cymbal either for her racing or her offspring and she is here as an example of what we will ignore for this short history of the Percy Sykes Stakes.
The 1965 winner, Lone, had some interesting ancestors on the side of her dam Lonely. Lonely was sired by Ajax, so we have Heroic in there, but aside from those two, most of Lone’s lines were northern hemisphere.
Lone is credited with four wins as a two-year-old, but she does not present anything great as an older horse.
At stud, she supplied nothing but fillies, with Vain and Wilkes each serving on one occasion, but it does not seem as though any of her offspring raced to any successful extent.
A daughter of Golden Slipper winner Sky High by Star Kingdom, the winner from 1969 was Obelia. Records from that era list her win in the Percy Sykes Stakes, which was of course the Keith Mackay Handicap at the time, but that same source claim she was unraced, which throws the data into question.
The 1971 winner, Kiss Me Cait, won the VRC Oaks Stakes that same year – a race that would eventually become a Group 1 event. None of her four named foals produced a significant winner.
The 1972 winner, Admire, was at least a good breeder, supplier of seven fillies and five colts, but sires such as Luskin Star and Kaoru Star served her on multiple occasions for three minor winners.
Favoured, the 1973 winner, was a strong racer, perhaps the strongest we have encountered to this stage in the race history. We have her for seven major wins, including the 1974 Queen of the Turf Stakes, where she beat none other than the legendary sprinter Leilani. Three of her wins were in races that eventually rose to Group 1.
Vain and Todman were sire to two of her three named foals, but neither those two nor the other were notable racers.
We are skipping forward to 1979, the year the race was given Listed grade and the winner was Charity.
Charity was by Vain, so this time, he succeeded where he had failed with the foal from Admire.
Charity won the Champagne Stakes from Mighty Kingdon and Lowan Star in the year that race went to Group 1 grade.
She was a favourite consort of Sovereign Edition, which accounted for five of her eight foals. Biscay got one from her, but in total, none of Charity’s progeny produced much.
While recent times have supplies smaller fields for the Percy Sykes Stakes, there were two years where the race had enough interest to require it being run in divisions.
That happened in 1976, with Fleet Princess and Truly Brave the respective winners. Fleet Princess was also the 1975 winner of the Gimcrack Stakes when that race was run in divisions. She raced for five wins and gave good value as a breeder with seven foals.
The winner of the other division, Truly Brave, did not leave any breadcrumbs for us to follow. She was the supplier of eight fillies and two colts, with the best being the 2010 filly Tinto by Red Dazzler that won above $1.4 million.
The other year of the Percy Sykes Stakes where divisions were necessary was 1984, with the winners being Stater and Dinky Flyer.
Stater did not make much impression as a racer, but two of her Australian racers combined for almost $1 million in prize money, while another raced in Hong Kong for above $9.6 million HKD.
Dinky Flyer, on the other hand, won the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 1987.
Her stud output was seven fillies; five of these fillies made at least some money from racing.
Magic Flute was the winner in 1986.
We have her down for seven major wins, including the 1987 Doncaster Handicap. She supplied three colts to Rubiton and one to Bletchingly. Two of these four never raced and one was a three-time winner of under $15,000.
The 1990 winner, Rhythmic Charm, had her best day when she won the Group 1 Sires’ Produce Stakes in 1990.
She apparently had a desirable conformation and enough ability to attract top sires such as Commands, Octagonal, Dehere and Redoute’s Choice to name some. Three of her offspring managed to win above $100,000.
A New Zealand mare named Flitter won in 1992.
She made 27 jumps for 6 wins and 11 placings to earn almost $650,000. Her top win was the 1995 Group 1 Winfield Classic (Coolmore Classic) and she had a Group 1 win in the Doomben 10,000 from All Our Mob and Bint Marscay.
She produced 13 foals to top stallions such as Zabeel, Danzero, Flying Spur, Danehill and Octagonal, but we could only attribute nine wins to all her foals.
We now jump forward to the year 2011, the year the race was won by Streama.
She could nearly qualify as our answer to what such a galloper was doing in a Listed race. She made 34 jumps for 10 wins and 13 placings, earning more than $2.6 million.
Other good wins by Streama in 2011 were the Group 1 Flight Stakes and the Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes and Furious Stakes. In 2012, she was winner of the Group 2 Surround Stakes and the Group 1 Australian Oaks. In 2013, she won the Group 1 George Main Stakes. Her big wins in 2014 were the Group 2 A.D. Hollindale Stakes and the Group 1 Doomben Cup.
As we have often observed, great racers do not necessarily translate to great breeders and Streama supplied five undistinguished foals.
In the first year the race was lifted to Group 3, the winner was Eloping.
She was by the good stallion Choisir and her granddam sire was Rory’s Jester, getter of many good foals.
Eloping made 24 jumps for seven wins and four placings. She earned above $1.2 million despite never winning a Group 1 or Group 2 race.
To date, she is credited with three foals, with the best being a 2019 filly by I Am Invincible named In Secret that has won two Group 1 races and over $3 million.
One of Fastnet Rock’s better foals, Shoals won the Percy Sykes Stakes in 2017, the year it was given Group 2 status.
She added Group 1 wins in the Myer Classic, the Surround Stakes and the Robert Sangster Stakes. She produced over $2.5 million in prize money from 15 jumps for seven wins and five placings.
Her foals, three of them, have not returned their investments, as Written Tycoon and I Am Invincible require high fees.
Anaheed was another Fastnet Rock filly that has earned $1.5 million from 15 jumps for five wins and three placings. She never won at Group 1 level. Her last jump supplied a third place run in the Group 2 Arrowfield Sprint in 2020.
A 2018 foal by I Am Invincible is her only contribution as a breeder.
The 2022 winner was Paris Dior - Racing Tips.
She is the daughter of Pierro from Entrancing.
She needed just nine jumps for two wins and three placings to earn over $1.2 million. She won $380,000 by finishing second to Xtravagant Star in the Restricted Listed Inglis Millenium.
She last jumped in March 2023 before being sent to the breeding sheds, but she has supplied no foals as of yet.
The Percy Sykes Stakes receives a lot of attention due to its prominent spot on the racing calendar.
Even as a Principal and Listed race though, good winners were in the race, including many winners of races that would become or always were Group 1 races since 1979.
Many winners of the Percy Sykes Stakes earned good prize money and a few of them supplied good racers for offspring.
Percy Sykes Stakes Past Winners
|2002||Before Too Long|
|1996||Law Of Logic|
|1982||I Like Diamonds|
|1981||Circle Of Song (AUS) 1978|
|1971||Kiss Me Cait|