The Group 3 Carlyon Cup is run at Caulfield Racecourse in February. The race is run under set weight plus penalty conditions and offers a prize money pool of $160,000 as of 2021.
It is a race run over 1600 metres and has supplied some winners that proved to be important chapters in the history of Thoroughbred racing in Australia.
History of the Carlyon Cup
The official name of the race is the T. S. Carlyon Cup. There was an Aussie Rules footballer name Thomas Symington Carlyon who played for the St. Kilda Saints back in the old days of the VFL, but he only played two games for the Saints in 1923, so it is doubtful that this is why the race is called as it is.
Historical data indicating the actual namesake for the race proved elusive, even for our highly dedicated journalists. One racing website that purported to have “Full race history…for all runnings of the MRC T S Carlyon Cup,” supplied nothing other than the winners and first generation of breeding showing the sire and dam.
We here at PGR already knew far more. Even the Wikipedia entry was more informative.
Many Thoroughbred races are named in honour of former chairpersons of racing clubs and since this race is run by the Melbourne Racing Club, we consulted their website and discovered that no matter how much we scrolled; there was no getting to the bottom of it.
We will assume that T. S. Carlyon was a former chairperson of the MRC, even though we cannot confirm this, as the initials do not identify a gender and even though for all we were able to determine, T. S. Carlyon may have been the person who did the sweeping-up after race meetings.
The official Melbourne Racing Club website makes no mention of a T. S. Carlyon and for the races held from 2001 through 2015, the initials were dropped from the race name. The initials had been in use from the inception of the race in 1977 through the 2000 edition. The initials were reinstated beginning in 2016.
For simplicity, we will call the race the Carlyon Cup for every subsequent mention.
Along with the race name, here is some more definitive information.
The trip for the Carlyon Cup has been all over the map. It was a stayer’s race of 2000 metres from the 1977 inception through 1994.
It was shortened to 1800 metres for 1995. The years 1996 and 1997 saw a further reduction to 1600 metres. That year of 1996 saw the race run at Sandown as Caulfield was getting a sprucing. It was back to 1800m from 1998 through 2000, and then back to 1600m from 2001 through 2005.
In 2006, it was shortened to 1400 metres and has been 1600m from 2011.
As best as we can determine, the trip was never changed during the course of the running of the race, although many punters and more than a few bookies would have appreciated that move by the MRC.
The Carlyon Cup was a Principal race for the first three years. It was raised to Group 2 from 1980, the year that saw many races graded by the ARB using the Group designation come into use, but in 2003, it was demoted to Group 3 quality.
Caulfield Racecourse, often known as “The Heath,” was almost abandoned and turned into a cemetery at one point during the early years of its existence.
Caulfield stages about 20 meetings per year. Its most prestigious race is the Caulfield Cup, where many punters’ bet slip go to die and be buried.
Racing History of the Carlyon Cup
The second year the Carlyon Cup was run, it was won by the great champion Hyperno. That same year of 1978 found Hyperno winning the now Group 1 BMW Stakes and C F Orr Stakes. Hyperno won the Melbourne Cup in 1979 and other major races and was awarded the honour of Australian Horse of the Year after more major wins.
Hyperno is not in the Australian Racing Hall of Fame, although he presents a strong case and arguably, there were some that did less and were admitted.
Another significant winner did not come along until Super Impose won the Carlyon Cup in 1989. Super Impose, unlike Hyperno, never won a Melbourne Cup, but he won two Doncaster Handicaps, two Epsom Handicaps and two Warwick Stakes. He won the 1992 Cox Plate and again unlike Hyperno, went into the Hall of Fame in 2007.
A name less familiar is that of Veandercross, the 1993 Carlyon Cup winner. He won 14 times. Eight of those wins were Group 1 races. He was a Kiwi horse and is enshrined in the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame. He was the Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year for the 1992 – 1993 racing season.
The well-known Northerly won in 2001. Northerly was a big racehorse, by which we mean not size necessarily, but in races won. Those wins include to Australian Cups, two Cox Plates, two Underwood Stakes and a Caulfield Cup. He won over $9 million from 19 wins and 9 placings, so when the purse was large, Northerly would be found at the post.
Another winner and a Caulfield Racecourse denizen was 2007’s Apache Cat. Apache Cat was one of the best pure sprinters in the history of Australian turf racing and was still winning after a leg injury forced his retirement in 2009 after what appeared to be an ill-fated attempt at the 2009 Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin racecourse.
The only multiple winner was Burning Front in 2016 and 2017. He was sent out favourite in 2016, as he was in 2017, when he edged Humidor, but Burning Front never won above Group 3.
Gailo Chop won in 2018, but has never really cracked the big-time.
Avilius was the 2019 winner. He won three Group 1 races and quite a bit of money, but the connections seem uncertain what to do with Avilius, as he was sent out in two Melbourne Cups, clearly beyond his range, as the 22nd in 2018 and the 22nd in 2019 might indicate.
The Group 3 Carlyon Cup is one of the few of which we are aware that was demoted in grade, but to this day, the race attracts good fields.
Much of that is for its role as a lead up race for some of the major races held later in the autumn a Caulfield and other metro courses, as its spot on the calendar and the running conditions serve as ideal preparation.
|Year||Carlyon Cup Winners|
|2014||Chase The Rainbow|
|2006||Live In Vain|
|1997||Peep On The Sly|
|1980||There You Go|