The Group 1 Sydney Cup is a stayer’s race of 3200 metres for any gender aged three years or above run under handicap conditions at Randwick Racecourse during the autumn Championship series.
Prize money for the race is $2 million and when the race last jumped on 8 April 2023, the winner was Explosive Jack.
Sydney Cup Race Details
Race Distance: 3200m
Prize Money: $2,000,000
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When Is The Sydney Cup: 13/4/24
What Time Is The Sydney Cup: TBA
Where Is The Sydney Cup: Randwick Racecourse
How To Live Stream The Sydney Cup
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More Details About The Sydney Cup
Explosive Jack is a Kiwi gelding with northern hemisphere lines on his Irish sire Jakkalberry. He has just a smidge of southern hemisphere blood via NZ dam Extra Explosive, although most of that line is northern hemisphere.
Currently aged six years, Explosive Jack is listed as active and working for Ciaron Maher and David Eustace. The good gelding has won above $3.1 million from just 18 jumps for six wins and four placings. His other Group 1 wins will explain the big bank. He won the 2021 Australian Derby and the 2021 South Australian Derby. His other three wins were those anonymous races better types win as they are being brought along, with the possible exception of the 2021 Tasmanian Derby, a Listed grade race.
The Sydney Cup is essentially the Melbourne Cup – same trip, same running conditions, but with far less prize money.
Australian breeders are looking for sprinters, milers and middle-distance horses, though, so international raiders usually figure into the field.
The race is part of the ATC set of races that has been dubbed The Championships, the highlight of Randwick’s autumn racing. The meeting also offers three additional Group 1 races – the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the Oaks and the Queen of the Turf Stakes. There are three Group 2 races, possibly the greatest number of any major meeting, but no Group 3 races. There are two Listed grade races.
That was the lineup for 2023. Races are often rescheduled, so things might change.
As a handicap race, it is common to find multiple winners, but there are only four that have won the Sydney Cup twice.
Form followers often rely on the Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap for some guidance.
History of the Sydney Cup
The race jumped for the first time in 1862.
Unlike some races, the trip has never been altered and we often wonder if something like that is in the future, as in moved down to 2400 or even 2000 metres in the same fashion as the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
The race has been known as Jockey Club Handicap and the Randwick Grand Handicap. Later, it was the Randwick Grand Handicap Sweepstakes. It was the Sydney Gold Cup at one time.
Venue for the Sydney Cup
Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney is the one and only venue for the Sydney Cup.
It opened in 1833, although it was once converted to training purposes only and did not get to racing proper until the 1860s.
From 2017, Randwick has been home to The Everest, a race for slot holders that offers $15 million in prize money.
Randwick hosts 20 Group 1, 18 Group 2 and a surprisingly short list of 11 Group 3 races.
For a 3200 metre staying race, the jump is from the far side of the track. It proceeds around to the home straight, and then makes a full circuit of the course to finish at the end of the home straight in front of the stands on the east side of the track.
Racing History of the Sydney Cup
For a complete history of the Sydney Cup, it would require several books, or one so large and dense that no one could carry it.
The Sydney Cup does not have the cachet of the Melbourne Cup, although it is basically the same race, except it is run clockwise fashion.
The remarkable distinction though, is that the prize money for the Melbourne Cup, $8 million, is four times greater than the $2 million of the Sydney Cup. NSW race organisers deserve respect for placing the race in the autumn, instead of taking on the spring slot of the Melbourne Cup.
Our history here will look at a few of the better types to win the race from the 19th century, a few from the 20th century and some from the 21st century.
We must mention the first winner, 1862’s Talleyrand.
As we have come to expect, records from that era tell us little about Talleyrand. One source mentions that he won the Randwick Grand Handicap in 1862, but reliable information exists that the race was not called that until the year following, 1863.
This is what happens with racing history at times. The Grand Handicap was to become the Sydney Cup, but historical sources claim that the Randwick Grand Handicap Talleyrand in 1861 would become the AJC Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Talleyrand was sired by Cossack. Cossack was also sire to Sir Hercules, a name that has been present in the pedigrees of many of the best Australian turf horses.
Another Sir Hercules offspring was the Sydney Cup winner in 1866, Yattendon.
Yattendon won major races beginning in 1864. By the time he won the Sydney Cup, he had notched victories in the AJC Mares Produce Stakes, the AJC Champagne Stakes, Randwick Derby Stakes (Australian Derby) and the AJC Randwick St. Leger Stakes. Following the Sydney Cup victory, Yattendon is credited with the 1867 Craven Plate and the 1867 All Aged Stakes.
He was a good foal-getter, and while we don’t have great data concerning the quality of his offspring, we do know that one was 1880 Melbourne Cup winner Grand Flaneur that became a top sire for 10 years. Another son, Chester, won the Melbourne Cup in 1877.
The first two-time winner of the race was The Barb in 1868 and 1869 that won the Melbourne Cup in 1866. That’s enough for him.
The next to win the Sydney Cup twice was Carbine in 1889 and 1890.
Carbine could consume the rest of our space for this article and still not come close to being fully examined. One thing he did that we consider noteworthy was acting as sire to the 1900 Sydney Cup winner, La Carabine.
Notable winners from the early years of the 20th century were Wakeful (1902), Kennaquhair (1920) and Eurythmic (1921).
We have written much about the 1933 winner Rogilla.
A two-time winner of the Sydney Cup that does not receive a lot of attention is the 1939 and 1940 winner Mosaic.
Mosaic was New Zealand bred and provides a form line of 41 jumps for 12 wins and 9 placings. His major claim was the win in the 1939 Cox Plate. He also won the Chipping Norton Stakes and the AJC Plate (Queen Elizabeth Stakes) in 1940. His stud output was confined to nine named foals, a good number for a mare rather than a stallion, and all of the foals were fillies.
The next dual winner was Veiled Threat that won the first in 1942 and his second in 1944. The first win put Beau Vite into third, to supply some inkling of Veiled Threat’s ability. Veiled Threat was also strong against Yaralla and Katanga. Other major wins from Veiled Threat were the Chipping Norton Stakes in 1943, 1944 Chelmsford Stakes and 1945 Rawson Stakes.
Other notables from that era of the mid-20th century include Carbon Copy (1949), Sailor’s Guide (1956) and Straight Draw (1958).
Carbon Copy was from one of the better crops. Those crops produced Comic Court, Foxzami and other talented types. Carbon Copy won 14 times and placed in 16 from 45 jumps. He won the 1948 Cox Plate and the AJC Derby, but it appears that as good as he was, he was not able to take a win from Comic Court.
The 1956 winner, Sailor’s Guide, is an Australian Racing Hall of Fame member that won good races in Victoria, including two wins in the VRC Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Sailor’s Guide won above £100,000, a level achieved only Tulloch and the harness racer Caduceus to that point in time.
Straight Draw, winner from 1958, won the 1957 Melbourne Cup. He was New Zealand bred. He was supposed to race Tulloch in the Cup, but Tulloch did not enter. He was the first ever to win The Metropolitan, Melbourne Cup and Sydney Cup in the same year. The win in the Melbourne Cup was over Prince Darius.
In 1962, the winner of the Sydney Cup was Grand Print.
The story of Grand Print is one of what could have been. His major wins were the Sydney Cup, the Australian Cup and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes. The what could have been races were a second to Aquanita in the 1962 Cox Plate, second to Lord Fury in the 1961 Melbourne Cup, third to Sometime and Gatum Gatum in the 1963 Caulfield Cup and third to Gatum Gatum and Ilumquh in the 1963 Melbourne Cup.
His primary interest to us, though, was that this gelding was the son of 1949 Sydney Cup winner Carbon Copy.
The legendary gelding Galilee was the winner in 1967. Months earlier, he had taken the top prize in the 1966 Melbourne Cup, supplying a rare Cups double following the win in the 1966 Caulfield Cup.
The next genuine notable we found was 1973 winner Apollo Eleven.
He was a stallion that lived a gelding’s racing career, with 87 jumps. It is speculated that after his win in the 1975 Chipping Norton Stakes, his second win, he was poisoned on his way to race in the 1975 Sydney Cup.
One year later, the notable Battle Heights won the race.
A Kiwi just like many other Sydney Cup winners, Battle Heights made 115 jumps, with wins in the Cox Plate in 1974 and the Metropolitan Handicap in 1976.
My Good Man was the winner of the race in 1978.
Yet another New Zealand bred gelding, his better wins were in the Wellington Cup in 1977 and 1978. When he won the Queen Elizabeth Cup in 1977, he received his trophy from the Queen. We doubt he was impressed.
A better Australian winner was 1979’s Double Century.
He went for the brace in 1980, but that was the year the race was won by Kingston Town. Double Century was a great sire, if for no other reason that getting $2.5 million winner Stylish Century out of Stylish in 1986.
We next land on the most recent dual Sydney Cup winner, Tie The Knot that took the race in 1998 and 1999.
Tie The Knot was Australian Champion Stayer in 2000.
A gelding by a U.S. sire, he made 62 jumps for 21 wins and 17 placings. He also won the Group 1 Tancred Stakes in 1999 and 2000, but for dominance, it requires looking no further than the four wins in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes from 1999 – 2002. All that winning left Tie The Knot with 13 Group 1 wins – two fewer than Black Caviar, one fewer than Kingston Town’s 14 and level with Sunline at 13.
We will just mention the 2004 winner Makybe Diva.
Other good winners to follow the Diva were Gallic (2007), Jessicabeel (2010) and Gallante (2016).
The 2017 edition of the Sydney Cup featured an injury-related delay when Almoonqith broke down after the jump, causing the race to be abandoned and run a fortnight later to be won by Polarisation.
Polarisation is listed as Active, but at the age of 12, this Godolphin racer has not raced since winning the Sydney Cup from Who Shot Thebarman by a head. The Sydney Cup was his only jump in Australia was the Sydney Cup. His other 23 jumps were in England.
A good winner from 2020 was Etah James.
She was winner of eight and placer in three of her 34 jumps for $1.2 million.
In 2022, the Sydney Cup was won by Knights Order.
This gelding had So You Think for sire and he made 37 jumps for nine wins and seven placings while racing for Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott. He last raced in mid-September of 2023, but his most recent win was almost exactly one year ago in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes. He tried for a Sydney Cup repeat in 2023 and ran third.
The Sydney Cup is perhaps the poster child for the reality of staying racing in Australia. Anything longer than 2400 metres is beyond the imagination of Aussie breeders and it is easy to understand why.
There are very few top graded 3200 metre races and those that do remain are often taken out by international raiders.
Racing NSW could have kept the prize money in the Sydney Cup level with the Melbourne Cup, but they chose, wisely it would appear, to put their money into The Everest.
Sydney Cup Past Results
|2018||Who Shot Thebarman|
|2011||Stand To Gain|
|2008||No Wine No Song|
|1999||Tie The Knot|
|1998||Tie The Knot|
|1992||My Eagle Eye|
|1991||Just A Dancer|
|1981||Our Paddy Boy|
|1978||My Good Man|
|1917||The Fortune Hunter|
|1888||The Australian Peer|
|1886||Cerise And Blue|