The Roman Consul Stakes is a Group 2 1200-metre sprint for three-year-old horses run under set weight conditions at Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney during the Sydney spring racing carnival.
The race is in early October and has been since 2006. It was previously run in early September.
Colts and geldings carry 56.5 kg, while fillies are spotted two kilograms to race at 54.5 kg.
Prizemoney for the race as of 2020 is $300,000 and the winner receives a ballot exemption for the Group 1 T J Smith Stakes in autumn.
History of the Roman Consul Stakes
The Roman Consul Stakes was first run in 1979.
The name is derived from a New Zealand bred horse from the 60s. We did not find much about this horse as a racer, but our general sense is that in NSW, unlike Victoria, horses have to do more than win a barrier trial and a maiden to earn a race named after them.
It started as a Listed race, as 1979 was the year the current race grading system was rolling out. The race was made Group 3 beginning in 1984 and achieved the current Group 2 status starting with 2005.
Other than 2011, when the race was shortened to 1100 metres, it has always been the 1200 metres we see currently.
Like other Sydney races, the Roman Consul Stakes has been run on all three Sydney metro courses.
From 1979 – 1999, the venue was Randwick. Rosehill Racecourse was used for 2000. It was back to Randwick for three years. Warwick Farm was used for 2004. Since 2005, the race’s home has been Randwick.
Equine influenza forced the race to be abandoned in 2007. Anyone who has ever had a bout with the flu can imagine what it is like for a racehorse to go through this. There were some deaths among young foals and weakened horses, but Australia was successful in preventing this global disease from entering the country previously and when it did manage to gain entry, the governments imposed strict control measures that halted the flu before it could spread too far.
Some of the better horses have won the Roman Consul Stakes and they will be mentioned again further along.
Race Venue for the Roman Consul Stakes
Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney is the venue we are claiming, because other than the two times it was moved to Rosehill for one race and Warwick Farm for one race, Randwick has always been the home of the Roman Consul Stakes.
Randwick is steeped in Australian Thoroughbred history.
Some Sydney race spectators refer to Randwick as “headquarters.” It may be the spot for NSW racing, but everyone knows that the true headquarters of Thoroughbred racing is in Melbourne.
Randwick is located in the eastern suburbs of Sydney close to the CBD. Racing has been going on there since 1833. The Everest is held there, which is currently, as of 2021, the richest turf race in the world. The Everest is way up there for richest race period. The Saudi Cup, the Pegasus World Cup and the Dubai World Cup are the only races that exceed The Everest for prizemoney.
View our specific details about Randwick, including ways to get there, races run, track dimensions and much more:
Racing History of the Roman Consul Stakes
The Roman Consul Stakes was in the past run at the same meeting that offers four Group 1 races. The meeting is known as Epsom Day, because it is the day the Epsom Derby is run.
Now, the race has been pushed back to the following week to serve as an interlude in the lead-up to The Everest.
With the race restricted to three-year-olds, there have been no multiple winners. Some truly elite gallopers have won the race over the years, but in many instances of late, the top horses are looking at Group 1 sprints that offer bigger prizemoney for the same amount of effort.
Here is a closer look at some of the past winners, beginning with the winner of the first race in 1979, Meriville.
Meriville was a colt foaled in 1976. We include him for being the first winner, but other than winning the Roman Consul Stakes, there was little mention of him and his name is so close to a geographic location in the northern hemisphere that kept popping up regardless of how we formatted our search. It gave us some idea of what it must be like to have Smith for a surname.
Hanalei won in 1980.
It is a name you would think was rare, but you would be wrong to think that, as it has been used for Thoroughbreds eight times. At least the name did not trap us in a labyrinth of websites linked to Hawaii.
The Roman Consul Stakes, remember, was a Listed race at this time, so if Meriville and Hanalei were unremarkable from a historical perspective, they were good enough to win at Group 4 level.
Swift Gun polished the reputation of his sire Bletchingly when he won the race in 1981. Once again, we see that connection from Bletchingly to Biscay to Star Kingdom that has produced a lot of classy gallopers. Once again, though, we find a winner that did not leave a big record of accomplishments.
The winner of the race is 1982 was the first name that offered us some interest. That is because the winner was named Andretti.
This Andretti was a modest horse out of New Zealand because his dam was from there. Australian sire Shifnal and one other ancestor from New Zealand are the only other southern hemisphere horses to contribute to Andretti. Yes, he had connections to Star Kingdom-grandsire-and also to Hyperion and Gainsborough. The name drew our attention because we thought Andretti might have played a role in the lines of the legendary Miss Andretti. It turned out not to be the case.
The 1983 winner, March Magic, was the last to win the Roman Consul Stakes before it was lifted to a Group 3 race. He won the Group 3 STC Premier Stakes the following year.
The next year, as a Group 3 race for the first time, we encounter the name of the first significant horse to win the race.
It was an eventual Australian Racing Hall of Fame horse named Red Anchor. His connections must have been the confident sort, as superstition would have prevented us from using anchor in the name of a horse lest it slow the horse down.
Red Anchor was not slow. He won the Cox Plate in 1984, right after he had won the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas. He won nine races as a two and three-year-old. In fact, other than his first race, where he finished third, he was never worse than first or second in his other 13 races. He concluded his career after winning the Roman Consul Stakes with five consecutive wins.
Those results had him off the turf after just 14 races, but he was never exceptional as a sire, with his best being Navy Seal, winner of the 1994 Epsom Handicap.
After Red Anchor, we saw some familiar names in the winners list, horses that were certainly competent if not great.
Wonder Dancer caught our attention. He was a Group 1 winner from the WATC Australian Derby and a Group 2 winner from the Apollo Stakes. The name is what caught our attention, just as the name Andretti had earlier, but in this case, Wonder Dancer did have connections to an all-time great in Canada’s Northern Dancer.
Another familiar name we ran across was that of the 1994 winner, Marwina. We remembered him as the winner of the Stan Fox Stakes, but he came close to winning the Silver Slipper Stakes and the Caulfield Guineas.
Our Maizcay was the 1995 winner. He did win the Caufield Guineas and had another Group 1 win in the VATC Vichealth Cup, the race now known as the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes.
To give some gauge of Our Maizcay, all we need to mention is that in the 1995 Group 2 Todman Stakes, it took Octagonal to beat him and it was by a head and part of a neck. He won seven of his first eight races and would win six consecutive further along in his career. When he lined up against Octagonal in the 1995 Cox Plate though, he would have needed powerful binoculars to see Octagonal beat him by over 23 lengths.
Easy Rocking won in 1999 and continued to improve. He won the Canterbury Stakes when it was still a Group 2 race in 2000 and he won at Group 1 level in November of 2000 when he beat Umrum into second and Tilt The Scales into third in the 2000 Salinger Stakes. It took the champion sprinter Testa Rossa to deny him in the Group 2 San Domenico Stakes and the Group 2 Up And Coming Stakes at Warwick Farm.
The winner in 2000 was Kootoomootoo. His win that year was early in his career and it was easily his best win from the prestige viewpoint. Darren Beadman rode him a lot and although Beadman never got much from this modest horse, Kootoomootoo is an automatic entry into the Pro Group Racing Hall of Fame for making 77 jumps.
A big name makes the list for 2003. The race that year was won by Exceed And Excel, one of the all-time great sprinters. There is no telling what this horse could have done if raced, but after seven wins and one placing from just 12 jumps, they decided it was better that Exceed And Excel be paid to do what most of us gladly do for free or pay to do and they sent him to the breeding sheds.
He excelled at the task and he exceeded expectations by siring 16 Group 1 winners that won over and over again. His progeny raced all over the world and the list of his output includes the likes of Bivouac, Microphone and Flamberge.
The very next year of 2004, the last time the Roman Consul Stakes was run as a Group 3 race, the big name of Fastnet Rock makes the winners list. Like Exceed And Excel, Fastnet Rock was retired early to supply DNA to the next generations of gallopers. He did win the Group 1 Lightning Stakes, but his major accomplishment was covering 257 mares in 2007. Some to distinguish themselves on the courses were Mosheen, Sea Siren and Atlantic Jewel.
Moving ahead, we learn that the race was not held in 2007 because of the equine influenza epidemic.
The race had been moved to Group 2 following the win by Fastnet Rock and 2010 supplies us with Buffering for the winner.
Buffering is one of the highest earners in Australian Thoroughbred history and he did not have races such as the Melbourne Cup or The Everest to inflate his earnings. He managed to win over $7 million, though, by winning major races or finishing well. Big wins by Buffering include domination in the Group 1 A J Moir Stakes (2012, 2014, 2015), the Victory Stakes (2011, 2013) and the Winterbottom Stakes (2013, 2015).
Zoustar was the winner in 2013 and his win in the Roman Consul Stakes was sandwiched between wins in the Group 1 Goldenrose at Rosehill and the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington.
In 2015, Exosphere won the race. He was a Goldolphin horse, so he only raced 10 times, because the Goldolphin operation well knows that it is slightly safer to live as a stud than it is as a racer. The biggest win by Exosphere was the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes. He was challenging the likes of Press Statement and Terravista, although he was not able to beat Chautauqua when Chautauqua was willing to race.
The rest of the list of winners of the Roman Consul Stakes is Russian Revolution (2016), Viridine (2017), Sesar (2018), Cosmic Force (2019) and Wild Ruler (2020).
The Roman Consul Stakes has provided us with a fair share of notable winners since its inception in 1979.
It has steadily progressed from Listed to Group 3 to Group 2 and while we are not predicting it to rise to Group 1, it would seem logical that eventually, the Roman Consul Stakes may make it to the top rung.
|Year||Roman Consul Stakes Winner|
|2006||Reigning To Win|
|2003||Exceed And Excel|
|1991||Prince Of Praise|
|1985||Heat Of The Moment|