The Villiers Stakes is a Group 2 race that takes place in early December over 1,600m at Royal Randwick Racecourse. Runners have the opportunity to win up to $250,000 in prize money.
With over 100 years of history the Villiers stakes was most recently won by Quackerjack under the ride of Rachel King.
History Of The Race
The Villiers Stakes is an Australian Turf Club Group 2 feature race run at Royal Randwick Racecourse over 1600m in December. The race is held under handicap conditions for horses aged 3 years and above.
Given the time of year that The Villiers Stakes is run it holds the added benefit that winners can become exempt from ballot for the Doncaster Mile at Randwick Racecourse in April. Being ballot exempt also gives runners in the Villiers an added incentive that the prize for the Doncaster is $3,000,000.
Being first run in 1892 The Villiers was originally run over 6 furlongs (1200m) and was won by a horse called Two Up. Up until 1901 the race continued to be run over 1200m until the distance was upgraded to the 1600m we see today. There was a period in 2008 where the race was run over 1400m but this was only for one edition of the race.
Now a Group 2 The Villiers Stakes has been upgraded over the years originally starting as a Principal Race from its Inauguration up until 1978 when it was upgraded to a Group 3 race. The Villiers saw further advancement in 1986 when it was upgraded to its Group 2 status the race is currently run at.
Royal Randwick has always been the home of The Villiers Stakes however the race has been run three times at Warwick Farm Racecourse. This was due to renovations taking place at Randwick to improve facilities meaning that the 2001, 2011 and 2012 Villiers Stakes were run at the Western Sydney track.
With $250,000 in prize The Villiers Stakes isn’t the richest race over 1600m at Group however it is the largest in prize money outside a carnival period and is competitive in attracting a decent quality of competition to fight out the prizes.
Racing HQ in New South Wales, Royal Randwick hosts some of the best racing in Australia including the world's richest turf race, The Everest.
Located 6km from Sydney’s Central Business District in the Suburb of Randwick the course holds racing all year round across its two tracks, The Course Proper and the inner Kensington track designed to accommodate racing outside of carnival and key race days.
In 1833 NSW Governor Richard Bourke designated the land for use as a racecourse. Prior to that Hyde Park in Sydney’s CBD had played host to horse racing in the city. The first racing was held in June of that year and 60 years later the first running of the Villiers Stakes took place.
Key racing takes place at Royal Randwick Racecourse during the Spring and Autumn in line with Melbourne’s Spring Carnival and Sydney’s Autumn Carnival. The Autumn Carnival is more prominent for Sydney as it is the period which hosts the Championships. A 2 day event where teams have the chance to win a total $20m prize fund.
With The Villiers racing is a bit more low key with only 2 Group races taking place in December with the other race being the Group 3 Summer Cup being run over 2000m on Boxing Day.
Despite a relatively low prize fund available compared to other group races through the year the Villiers does still attract a strong field each year. The race is generally made up of horses looking at add a black type race to there CV before the end of the year as well as runners who have not been sent to Perth to compete in the WA Summer Carnival.
Horses may make their way from the 1400 metre Group 3 Bill Ritchie Handicap at Randwick or the 1500 metre Group 2 Shannon Stakes at Rosehill although not many of them have been a handy form guide in recent years.
The quality of the Villiers fields have never been in questions with some handy winners coming from the race in recent times. Happy Clapper is probably the most notable having won the Villiers on the way to amassing several Group 1 victories as well as over $7m in prize money.
Takeover Target was runner up in 2008 and came into the race with a series of victories and was a multiple group winner until the end of his racing career in 2009.
Bernborough and Caesar were among the early winners in 1945 and 1958 respectively, who went on to become stars of the turf. Some of the other notable winners include Rising Prince in 1984, Spot The Rock in 1989, Touch Of Force in 1996, Referral in 1998, and On A High in 2003.
The most recent edition of the race was won by Quackerjack trained by Mark Newnham beating home Invincible Gem and Sambro in a narrow victory.
The Villiers Stakes is a great race for trainers and runners alike looking to test out there abilities against a quality field outside of key carnival racing.
Especially through summer where racing isn’t as strong, the 1600m at Royal Randwick is a great way to showcase talent at a premium racecourse.
Its rich history of large talented fields gives punters an opportunity to see live high quality racing without having to pay the premium entrances fees around the busier race periods.
For us, The Villiers Stakes gives everyone involved in racing a great opportunity to win whether it be viewing, testing talented horses or getting a prize on the day it’s definitely a race to watch in December.
|Year||Villiers Stakes Winner|
|2017||Crack Me Up|
|2016||Sense of Occasion|
|2010||Dances On Waves|
|2009||Palacio De Cristal|
|2008||Honour In War|
|2003||On A High|
|2000||Grey And Gold|
|1996||Touch Of Force|
|1995||Here's The Prince|
|1989||Spot The Rock|
|1969||Sir To Me|
|1959||Comte De Paris|