The Sky High Stakes is a Group 3 stayers’ race of 2000 metres for all genders run under set weight plus penalty conditions at Rosehill Racecourse in Sydney during March.
Prizemoney for the Sky High Stakes is worth $350,000 in prizemoney as of 2023.
Sky High Stakes Race Details
Race Distance: 2000m
Prize Money: $350,000
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When Is The Sky High Stakes: 9/3/24
What Time Is The Sky High Stakes: TBA
Where Is The Sky High Stakes: Rosehill Racecourse
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More Details About The Sky High Stakes
Protagonist was the 2023 winner. He is a 2017-foaled gelding from of all places, France.
Sacre Bleu! It’s a French invasion. The other two placers in the race were also French horses.
We suppose we’d rather have their horses rather than their surly waiters…
Protagonist raced in Europe with limited success and came down under for some easy pickins’, although he did not find anything easy when he made his next jump in the Doncaster Mile and was 12th of 20.
Somewhat oddly, while Rosehill races often appear to be a parade of Chris Waller horses, his three gallopers in the race finished stone, mother and less.
Protagonist jumped as the $5 second favourite and picked up the top prize of $198,500.
The meeting at which the Sky High Stakes jumps, as of 2023, is one that features the Group 1 Coolmore Classic. If the ATC could be said to use a theme for its meetings, this one would be the one to honour some great gallopers.
The Group 2 Phar Lap Stakes and the Group 2 Ajax Stakes are examples. Along with the Sky High Stakes, there is also the Group 3 Magic Night Stakes and the Group 3 Pago Pago Stakes. The Group 3 Maurice McCarten Stakes does not fit the theme, but these sorts of things are subjective and not carved in stone.
Many of the horses in the Sky High Stakes might target the Group 1 Doncaster Mile and some may be intended for the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes or the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas.
History of the Sky High Stakes
Sky High was a sire by Star Kingdom, in case anyone would wonder how long we would go on without mention of Star Kingdom.
Sky High was foaled in 1957 out of Flight’s Daughter and the entire line on both sides is absolutely filthy with the crème de la crème of Australian pedigrees.
Between 1960 and 1962, Sky High won the Golden Slipper Stakes and 16 other races than are now Group 1 grade.
He practically owner Wenona Girl; providing some indication of his ability. He beat her in the Golden Slipper, the Canterbury Stakes twice and the Canterbury Guineas.
To be fair and avoid accusations of misogyny, Wenona Girl beat Sky High on four occasions.
Sky High was just adequate as a sire. His quantity was acceptable, but for quality, only a few of his offspring accomplished much by racing, certainly nothing that could be said to be in line with expectations.
He is, of course, in the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.
The Sky High Stakes was first run in 1989. Through 2023, there has never been a repeat winner.
It was an unlisted handicap at first, which we view as exceedingly scandalous given the racing record of Sky High. It was made a Listed grade race in 1992 and finally made it to Group 3 status in 2014.
It was a 1900-metre trip, something that might be expected from QTC races, until 2015, moving to 2000 metres in 2015.
The race was run under quality handicap conditions until 2016; it was changed to set weight plus penalty that year.
The only time the race jumped anyplace other than Rosehill was in 2008, when it went to Canterbury Park for that year.
Venue for the Sky High Stakes
Rosehill Racecourse first held racing in 1885.
It is a Sydney metro Group racing hotspot in March, with close to half of its yearly Group grade races jumping as autumn carnival races.
The historically famous race held at Rosehill is the Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes. From 2019, it has staged the Golden Eagle, a $10 million race for four-year-olds.
The track features a familiar per-shaped triangle that is often found at Australian racecourses. The dimensions are also typical.
For 1500 metre races, the jump is from a chute at the northeast side of the track. The racers travel down a long straight, and then make the tightest of Rosehill’s three turns to hit the home straight and finish on the northeast side at the finish line in front of the stands.
Racing History of the Sky High Stakes
At first glance, the only name on the list of Sky High Stakes winners that is immediately recognizable is that of the 2015 winner, one of our all-time favorites, Hartnell.
Some of the other names contain hints and as we move through the list, we will be looking for racers that won above Group 3, made impressive prizemoney, beat better types, or contributed significant offspring.
The first winner in 1989 was Eye Of The Sky.
There is not a drop of Aussie blood in the lines of Eye Of The Sky and he, like the three placers in the 2023 Sky High Stakes, carried French blood from his dam Airini that was of New Zealand extraction.
Eye Of The Sky won almost $1 million back when it meant something. He won the Group 1 1990 BATC Fourex Cup, now the Doomben Cup. He beat Rough Habit for that win, after which Rough Habit would win the next three jumps of that major Brisbane race. He had a couple of wins a Group 2 grade and some Group 3 wins as well from a remarkable form line of 71 jumps for 17 wins and 15 placings.
We have skipped ahead to the 1994 winner, Cross Swords.
He was a Kiwi gelding that won almost $1 million in prizemoney from 71 jumps for 10 wins and 13 placings. His best win was the 1994 Group 1 Sydney Cup.
A mare named Balmeressa was the winner in 1995 and she won the Kingston Town Stakes that same year when the race was a Group 3 race.
She won nine races, but nothing that could be considered above the Sky High Stakes, which at that time was Listed grade. She supplied four named fours and the 1997 gelding Outlaws by Brocco won seven races and approximately $230,000.
Darbaas, winner in 1996, was by Cossack Warrior with Bletchingly a grandsire, supplying the connection to Star Kingdom through Bletchingly sire Biscay.
He won above $500,000 but he needed 57 jumps to rack up 11 wins and 16 placings.
Joss Sticks was the 1998 winner and he was a gelding that made 46 jumps for 14 wins and 8 placings for over $676,000 in prizemoney.
The 1999 winner of the Sky High Stakes, For The Moment, would be overlooked except to mention that this daughter of Zabeel was a limited racer. Arguably her best result was third in the 1998 Group 1 Ansett Stakes.
She was equally disappointing as a breeder – just four named foals, the best being In Rehearsal by More Than Ready that won $230,000 over the course of 71 jumps.
We are now at 2001, the year Bello Signor won the Sky High Stakes.
A gelding by a British sire, we appreciated that he made 99 jumps and won as far out as 3450 metres. He was also a steeplechaser, another thing we admire for the foolhardiness of racing jumps.
Judged by what we thus far finding for winners of the Sky High Stakes, we will mention the 2002 winner, the gelding Restless.
He won over $578,000 from his 56 jumps for 10 wins and 14 placings.
Another daughter of Zabeel, similar to For The Moment, the 2003 winner of the Sky High Stakes was National Treasure.
She was handy at best, less than handy at worst. She is mentioned solely for her sire. After racing, she was served without impact by Exceed And Excel, Redoute’s Choice and Encosta De Lago.
The 2004 winner was Daniel's The Man.
His minor claim to fame was that his win in the Sky High Stakes came at the expense of a much better galloper named County Tyrone that won above $2.3 million.
The 2005 winner, Seul Amour was another offspring of Zabeel.
He was a desultory racer, but as the son of Zabeel, he commanded a good fee and has supplied many offspring. A couple of those raced successfully in South Africa, including Heart Of A Lion that won about $1.2 million at current exchange rates.
The horse beaten by Daniel’s The Man, County Tyrone, was the 2006 winner.
He was by the great sire Danewin and he earned over $2.3 million from 87 jumps for 9 wins and 17 placings. His Group 1 wins were the 2006 Group 1 Sydney Cup after crossing second in the 2005 edition. He had another Group 1 win in the 2002 Queensland Derby at Eagle Farm. He had another good outing to finish second in the 2003 Sydney Cup.
Another Group 1 win for County Tyrone came in 2004, when he won The Metropolitan and he posted a second in the Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap, to 2003 Caulfield Cup winner Mummify.
It was another Zabeel progeny, Coalesce, taking the post in the 2007 Sky High Stakes.
His 10 wins and 6 places earned him about $686,000.
At this rate, we suppose they should consider renaming the race to the Zabeel Produce Stakes.
A handy mare named Older Than Time was the 2011 winner. Zabeel was her grandsire.
The 2012 winner was Single.
He was nothing exceptional by any stretch, but in the Sky High Stakes, he beat the much better New Zealand horse Fiumicino that won over $1.4 million. Single jumped favourite in that race for reasons we fail to understand and he beat all of Chris Waller’s horses, including second favourite Vintedge.
When we look at 2015, we have the question asked and answered – what was this horse doing in this race?
The winner that year was Hartnell.
This northern hemisphere gelding made 58 jumps for 13 wins and 23 placings and over $7.4 million prizemoney.
He won four Group 1 races at the age of eight, something that strikes a chord in the heart of us old men. He beat Single Gaze to win the Group 1 C. F. Orr Stakes in 2018. He won the Group 2 Hill Stakes from Who Shot Thebarman and the 2016 Group 1 Turnbull Stakes from Jameka.
What we always admired about Hartnell though, was that he did not hide in his stall, as many did when they learned that Winx was in the field for a race.
Hartnell never beat her, but he was close a time or two to the extent that it is sometimes hard to acknowledge that he was a gelding.
The 2016 winner was Sir John Hawkwood.
This northern hemisphere galloper won above $1.1 million from 30 jumps for 8 wins and 7 placings. He won at Group 1 grade at the age of seven when he won The Metropolitan.
The 2017 winner was a good New Zealand gelding named Tavago.
He needed just 16 jumps for 4 wins and 2 placings to exceed $1.6 million. He beat Jameka to win the Group 1 Australian Derby in 2016, although Jameka left him stone motherless in the Group 1 BMW in 2017. Tavago tried the Sky High Stakes again in his last jump in 2019, but did not place.
Another $1 million winner, Auvray of France won in 2018.
Unlike Tavago though, he needed 44 jumps to get above a million.
He beat the better racer Libran to win the Sky High Stakes, although in other races he competed in with Libran in the field, Libran often left him in the dust. He jumped in the 2018 Melbourne Cup, but he beat only three others in the field.
The 2020 winner was Master Of Wine.
Wine, perhaps. Racing? Definitely not. He came down under to try the Melbourne Cup, but he was never in the conversation.
The 2021 winner was the handy mare Toffee Tongue.
A daughter of the good New Zealand sire Tavistock, she won just under $1 million from 21 jumps for 2 wins and 8 placings. She tasted the toffee of a sweet Group 1 win in the 2020 SAJC Schweppes Oaks.
Stockman was the winner in 2022.
He is listed as active and has won above $1.5 million from 42 jumps for 8 wins and 10 placings as of early April of 2023.
Like the 2021 winner Toffee Tongue, Stockman is by the good New Zealand sire Tavistock. He was fifth to Protagonist in the 2023 Sky High Stakes. He finished second in the 2022 Group 1 Tancred Stakes to Duais.
The Sky High Stakes was mainly won by stayers aged five and above.
Many were foreigners seeking a slot in the Melbourne Cup.
There were a couple better types, a few Group 1 winners as well, but with the exception of Hartnell and possibly Eye Of The Sky, most of the winners exemplified the dearth of good stayers in Australian Thoroughbred racing.
The most notable element we observe was the number of winners sired by Zabeel, although New Zealand does have a reputation for turning out stayers.
Sky High Stakes Past Results
|Year||ATC Sky High Stakes Winner|
|2020||Master Of Wine|
|2016||Sir John Hawkwood|
|2011||Older Than Time|
|2009||Keepin' The Dream|
|2004||Daniel's The Man|
|1999||For The Moment|