Originally run in August, the Group 2 Premiere Stakes is a Group 2 sprint that gained instant credibility when it was moved to a prime slot on the Thoroughbred racing calendar in 2011 to become a part of the early October Epsom Day meeting at Sydney’s Randwick Racecourse.
The race is run over 1200 metres under weight for age conditions for either gender plus geldings aged three years and above.
As of 2020, prizemoney for the race was $500,000.
Libertini won in 2020 and her share of the purse was $287,000.
See below Brutal winning the 2019 Premiere's Cup.
History of the Premiere Stakes
The Premiere Stakes is a newer race, in the context of some Australian races that have histories of 100 years and more. It first ran in 1972 as a Listed race. It remained at that level until 1979, when it was granted Group 3 status. It was lifted to Group 2 in 1997, where it has remained, even though it has for some time offered Group 1 prizemoney.
Something that seemed a bit unusual was that the race was initially run over 1300 metres in a sport where even numbers dominate, unless the discussion centres on racing in Queensland.
The Premiere Stakes shifted to 1200 metres in 1976 and has stayed there since.
At times, it seemed like the race no one wanted.
It ran at Rosehill Racecourse at first and remained there from inception until 1984, when it jumped at Canterbury Racecourse before returning to Rosehill from 1985 until 1992, and then returned to Canterbury for the race held in 1993. It was back to Rosehill from 1994 through 2010.
The Premiere Stakes has been at Royal Randwick since 2011.
Venue for the Premiere Stakes
Since 2011, the Premiere Stakes has been run at Sydney’s premier metro track, Royal Randwick. It is located in the eastern suburbs on Crown land that in these days of a symbolic monarchy is treated as public land.
As of the latter part of 2021, Randwick stages 20 Group 1, 18 Group 2 and 11 Group 3 races. Randwick stages an unclassified race called The Everest, which holds the bragging rights as the world’s richest turf race. A horse would have to win the Melbourne Cup twice to earn what it can earn by winning The Everest once. The race does not carry a Group designation because it is considered a Special Conditions race because it has not yet eligible for Group race status and it charges each galloper $600,000 just to get in – a loft figure that exceeds the total prize pool for more than a few Group 1 races. Further details about Randwick can be found here.
Racing History of the Premiere Stakes
The racing history of the Premiere Stakes is a short one because the race did not begin until 1972. It is often considered a lead-up race for some of the prestigious Group 1 races that are part of the NSW spring racing schedule and in that vein, the winner receives a ballot exemption for the Group 1 T J Smith Stakes, another weight-for-age race that attracts the elite gallopers. That race takes place in April, so there is a gap, but it is logical to conclude that the winner of the Premiere Stakes might be glad to have a nice future that includes an automatic barrier in a $2.5 million race.
The race is associated with some famous horses that have won the race and later rose to greater heights and as a weight-for-age race, there have been some two, but never a three-time winner.
The first winner was Outback from 1972. This being Australia, we would have expected to find the name used by many, but our expectation would have gone unmet. We did find 10 other horses by that name, including our Outback and one in the USA that both dropped in 1969. There was even one by that name from China.
The Premiere Stakes winner Outback was an undistinguished sort, which is often the case when a race makes its debut. The only thing we saw in his lines was a distant connection on his dam’s side to England’s great racer and breeder, Hyperion. The only other race we found mentioned in the win column for Outback was the 1972 AJC Hobartville Stakes.
The 1973 winner was worthy of automatic inclusion in the fictional PGR Hall of Fame. He was a New Zealand product named Zambari that made 91 starts for 23 wins and 19 placings. He was a capable racer from respectable, not great lines. He won plenty of good races such as the Memsie Stakes, P B Lawrence Stakes. He was good enough to win the Black Caviar Lightning well before Black Caviar came along. His best wins, subjectively, would have been the Oakleigh Plate and the Caulfield Stakes.
A mare won the Premiere Stakes for the first time in 1974. She was called Favoured and she had a short career of 23 starts, but she won 13 of those and place in three others. All she had to show for that record was $53,000 in prizemoney, but 1974 was different. In today’s money, it would have tallied to almost $300,000, but still, she won the 1974 Newmarket Handicap, the Canterbury Stakes and the STC Queen of the Turf Stakes, so she would have been considered a top galloper.
Go Mod was the 1975 winner. He did two amazing things. First, he made 103 jumps, earning our instant admiration. Second, he somehow managed to remain an entire the entire time.
The next winner was Purple Patch in 1976.
He was a classy New Zealander that won at eventual Group 1 level with his victories in the George Main Stakes and the Rawson Stakes. He won the Winx Stakes when it was the Warwick Stakes.
The next three winners were rather anonymous, if it is fair to say such about a horse that could win a better race such as the Premiere Stakes. It is maybe fitting that this is so, as the next winner left little doubt when it comes time to confer legendary status.
The 1981 winner was Kingston Town.
We have written about him on numerous occasions and part of his significance was his dominance right on the cusp of the Group system coming into use. His three Cox Plate wins alone mark his as a champion, along with the statistic that he ran unplaced just four times in 41 jumps. A complete rundown on this horse can be found at the below link.
The 1982 winner was Latin Saint that did most of his major ace winning in Western Australia.
The wait for something belonging in the same conversation with Kingston Town was short, as the Premiere Stakes was won in 1983 by Emancipation.
Emancipation ticks a lot of the boxes for us. She was a grey, she was Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year in 1984, she beat Manikato in the George Ryder Stakes and she had lines to die for. He sire was Bletchingly. Her dam was Ammo Girl. Her dam sire was Gunsynd. More detail on Emancipation will be found at the following link.
The next good winner we encounter was from 1987, when Campaign King won. He won six Group 1 races, including two George Ryder Stakes, the Doomben 10,000 and the All Aged Stakes. He won almost half of his 55 jumps, compiling a stat line of 25 wins and five placings and he earned over $1.8 million at a time when it was not easy to do.
Yet another New Zealand horse won in 1988 when Sky Chase won the Premiere Stakes. We saw him as winning three times at Group 1 level, three times at Group 2 and twice at Group 3 level.
The years of 1991 and 1992 supplied the first multiple winner in Joanne.
Joanne never broke through to win at Group 1, but she won twice at Group 2, including the Expressway Stakes. She was also a two-time winner of the Group 3 Missile Stakes and placed well in the Oakleigh Plate. She beat the great galloper Redelva in the 1990 Sir Rupert Steele Stakes.
Legal Agent won in 1996. He was good-not-great and he makes our narrative only because he would have been an older horse when he won the Premiere Stakes, as he foaled in 1989.
Masked Party won in 1998. He made 67 jumps and honoured his lines well, which included Marscay, Biscay and Star Kingdom. He had a Group 1 win in the AJC Galaxy Stakes in 1999.
Our next winner could claim possibly to be the only ever to win a race twice in two different centuries.
It was Mr. Innocent in 1999 and 2000.
He was guilty of winning almost $1.8 million, although that is no crime in our eyes. He won the Doomben 10,000 at Group 1 level in 2000.
Thorn Park won in 2003. He won the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap in 2004 as the favourite.
2006 winner Paratroopers won almost $2 million including the 2006 All Aged Stakes from Niconero and a previous Premiere Stakes winner named Shania Dane. Paratroopers beat Dance Hero in the 2006 Canterbury Stakes for the win.
Triple Honour was a New Zealand horse that won the race in 2008. He won the Group 1 Doncaster Handicap that same year.
There was a dead heat between Mentality and Kroner in 2009.
Is that still permitted in the age of high resolution photo finishes? Should they not have had extra time, or more accurately, extra metres?
Mentality was good enough to win the Group 1 Champagne Stakes as a two-year-old from Miss Finland and managed to turn his seven wins and nine placings into almost $2 million, while Kroner never truly amounted to much.
Hot Danish won the Premiere Stakes in 2010. She won over $2 million, with her best win coming that same year in the Doomben 10,000.
Red Tracer, a better mare that won in 2012, won two Group 1s in 2013, the Myer Classic and the Tatt’s Tiara. Of her 38 jumps, she won 15 times and placed 14, earning over $2 million.
Following a similar pattern to other Premiere Stakes winners, 2015 winner Terravista won over $2.6 million with major wins and placings at Group level. He won two Group 1s, the Darley Classic and the Lightning Stakes, both at Flemington
Takedown, the 2016 winner, notched his Group 1 win by going west to win the 2016 Winterbottom Stakes as his last win, although he made many jumps after. He was often lined up against Redzel and In Her Time, but he never managed to take either down.
In Her Time notched her Premiere Stakes win the following year of 2017. She took in over $3.7 million in prizemoney. She beat the handy galloper English to win the Premiere Stakes and beat good horses in Osborne Bulls and Sunlight for a Group 1 win in the Lightning Stakes at Flemington. She ran in the 2019 The Everest, but could muster only ninth of twelve.
Santa Ana Lane won in 2018. He was almost in a class by himself, with winnings of over $8.2 million. He had five Group 1 wins. He beat In Her Time into third when he won the Premiere Stakes. He ran second to Yes Yes Yes in The Everest in 2019, which contributed heavily to his winnings.
The New Zealand horse Brutal won in 2019 and made a name for himself by winning the Group 1 Doncaster Handicap. He ran a distant second to Winx in the 2019 George Ryder Stakes. The Premiere Stakes was his last win, but he managed to turn 10 jumps for five wins and three placings into over $2.6 million.
We mentioned 2020 winner Libertini at the beginning of this article.
There you have it. Although the history of the race is not long by comparison to many others, it has attracted strong gallopers across its existence. It is one of the reasons to watch the racing on Epsom Day as it offers top quality Group 2 racing under weight-for-age conditions.
|Year||Premiere Stakes Winner|
|2018||Santa Ana Lane|
|2017||In Her Time|
|2004||Spark Of Life|
|1995||Light Up The World|