Any race which includes the word “guineas” in its name is clearly a race with some history, reflecting its origins in the 2000 Guineas classic run at Newmarket in the UK since 1809, and the Caulfield Guineas is no different.
The Caulfield Guineas is a Group 1 race, held under the auspices of the Melbourne Racing Club at the Caulfield Racecourse. The Caulfield Guineas is a race for three year olds and is run under set weight conditions. The Caulfield Guineas is held annually on the second Saturday in October every year, as part of the Melbourne Spring Carnival.
History Of The Caulfield Guineas
The Caulfield Guineas is, and has been run over a distance of 1600 metres since 1881, a distance only six metres short of the original imperial mile first used at its’ inception.
During World War Two the Caulfield Guineas were transferred to Flemington for four years as the Caulfield area served as a staging base for US troops before they moved on to the heat of battle.
Regarded as a blue riband event for three year olds the Guineas offers a prize purse of $1million for the winner and total prize money of $2 million for the field.
The Caulfield Guineas is held on a stacked day of racing and headlines four Group 1 races on the same day including the Toorak Handicap, The Caulfield Stakes and the Thousand Guineas. When taken altogether it makes for a fitting entree to the Caulfield Cup which takes place on the following Saturday, the final day of the Festival.
Prior to 1979, the 1000 guineas had been considered only as a “principal race”, but in that year, partly due to the fact that fillies had over the years become less and less successful in the Caulfield Guineas, the 1000 guineas was upgraded to a Group 1 event for fillies only and moved to the opening day, with prize money reduced accordingly. In 2020, this was $1,000,000.
An extra bonus prize is offered to the winner of the Caulfield Guineas, if it should be entered and win the Caulfield Classic on the following Saturday, and winning that alone is an additional $250,000.
Although it holds an excellent reputation for attracting quality three year old gallopers, the race itself is not renowned for throwing up hot shot horses which will triumph in the Caulfield Cup or Melbourne Cup in future years. Rather, it seems that Caulfield Guineas winners are more suited to taking on the fields of the Cox Plate, where weight for age rankings would seem to benefit them. Similarly, it is not at all unknown for a Guineas winner to go on and take the Victoria Derby.
Venue For The Caulfield Guineas
The Caulfield Guineas is run at Caulfield Racecourse and the race was one of the first races on the racing schedule for the track.
Caulfield Racecourse is a Victorian race track located nine kilometres south of Melbourne’s CBD in the south eastern suburb of Caulfield.
Racing at Caulfield has been held for nearly 150 years and is now home to the Melbourne Racing Club who oversee all racing events and meetings held at the track.
The Melbourne Racing Club also manages the Moonee Valley Race track as well as the Sandown Lakeside Racecourse however Caulfield itself still hosts 25 race meetings annually.
Racing has always been held at Caulfield Racecourse however there have been two periods where racing was unable to take place. The first was when the US military took over the track for use as an Army base during WWII and the second was in 1995 when the track underwent major development and racing wasn’t possible.
Today, Caulfield still hosts an extremely high calibre of racing with 12 Group 1s held throughout the year including the previously mentioned 4 on Caulfield Guineas day.
The likes of the Blue Diamond Stakes, Caulfield Cup and Oakleigh Plate are still huge events to this day but winners of the Caulfield Guineas usually go on to aim at greater glory.
Previous Winners Of The Caulfield Guineas
There have been many notable winners of the Caulfield Guineas but throughout history it has been rare for horses to complete a Group 1 double once winning the Guineas. However it has been achieved by horses with historic pedigree.
The first horse of note to win a Guineas/Cox plate winner is a horse by the name of Surround, who performed this feat in 1976, bred in New Zealand by an Irish sire from a New zealand mare. The Guineas in early October was her first victory and then Surround went on to take the Cox plate later the same month before going on to collect a total of twelve first places from sixteen starts and earning a total of $347,000 in prize money. Undoubtedly, this would have been more, but the following season an injury to her foreleg after only three starts, brought the career of this potentially historic steed to an untimely end. Historic? Well, Surround was a mare, the last mare to win the Caulfield Guineas.
Another horse which might have achieved the classification as historic was the stallion Red Anchor, whose successful career as a three year old was also cut short by injury. In 1984, going one better than Surround, he took first of all the Caulfield Guineas, then moved on to repeat his success in the Cox Plate. Then, as if this double was not enough, he went on to take the Victoria Derby. Sired by an Irish father out of a British mare, Red Anchor was first reared in New Zealand, although he earned most of his winnings of over $773,000 in Australia, with a record of nine wins out of fourteen starts. Sadly, after siring five stakes races winners with seven wins between them, Red Anchor had to be euthanised in April 2001 when in a stables accident he fractured a front leg.
However, as if to make a mockery of an earlier statement, the first horse to win the Caulfield Guineas and another Group 1 race, in 1919 went by the name of Artilleryman. Unusually, this horse went on to complete a double with a win in the Melbourne Cup of the same year. This win in the Melbourne Cup, however, was perhaps not so totally out of the blue, since his sire, the British bred Comedy King had already won the race in 1910. All told, Artilleryman won a total of eight Stakes races in the 1919-1920season in a career which finished with a total of eleven wins out of twenty six starts. Unfortunately, like other Caulfield Guineas winners, Artilleryman met an abrupt end, when he suffered an internal haemorrhage during a training outing.
Moving forward in time to the period 1936 -1940, we find another steed well worthy of the title “historic”. This outstanding mount, Ajax, after a successful career on the track and then as a sire of distinction was to end his life as the “pet” of no other than Bing Crosby, who purchased him as a 14 year old and took him to the USA.
The most triumphant period of his racing career came between 1936, his maiden season, when he had three wins and one second place in five starts. Then in the October of 1937, he won his first two races of the season before losing in the AJC Derby to a horse carrying almost 14 kgs less in weight. However, after this Ajax bounced straight back with a win in record time in the Caulfield Guineas, which was to prove the first victory in a run of eighteen races unbeaten covering two seasons.
Jumping forward to more up to date winners, it’s worth taking a look at a horse called All Too Hard who won the Caulfield Guineas in 2012.
Great things were expected from this horse who was the half brother to the undefeated Black Caviar. Sad to report, however, is that he did not match his siblings magnificent career. Initially, as a two year old, it seemed that he would live up to his anticipated promise, winning his first three races without undue fuss or pressure. At that point, he was very much the ante-post favourite for the two year olds classic, the Golden Slipper, but his trainer chose not to run him in this event and entered him instead in the AJC Sires Produce Stakes, considering this to offer a better opportunity for the horse. As it turned out All Too Hard lived up to his name and found the race beyond his capabilities, coming in second. All Too Hard ended his race career with a further three Group 1 wins in 2013, racking up first place in quick succession in the C.F.Orr Stakes, the Futurity Stakes and the All Aged Stakes, before his owners decided that the time had come for him to go to stud.
Closing Thoughts For The Caulfield Guineas
Who will be the first horses this year to set pulses racing as they battle it out for the $2million prize money the Caulfield Guineas has to offer.
Could the race be won by Anamoe, a Godolphin horse trained by James Cummings, and highly rated following its maiden season where it brought home the bacon to the tune of $1,622 million plus, including a win in the Golden Slipper.
Or could it be Artorius, trained by the Freedman stable, who has chalked up two wins and a second in its four starts as a two year old, winning just over $1million in the process.
Perhaps it might be Hilal, a bay colt from the Flemington stable of Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes. Although Hilals form and successes have not screamed out “champion” it is considered to be an elite class horse with a profitable future predicted for it. Who knows – perhaps the Caulfield Guineas might represent the first step on it’s golden future.
The simple truth, of course, is that no one knows for certain who will come home in first place. The only two things which are certain are that the Caulfield Guineas, having survived for more than a century, will go on and on, turning up horses who fall into the “heroic” category.
So……….Enjoy the Caulfied Gunieas, and have good day out
|Year||Caulfield Stakes Winners|
|2019||Cape Of Good Hope|
|2010||So You Think|
|1998||Might And Power|
|1977||Family Of Man|
|1948||De La Salle|
|1923||Maid Of The Mist|