The HDF McNeil Stakes is a Group 3 sprint of 1200 metres held at Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne during the early stages of the spring racing carnival in either late August or early September.
The race is for three-year-olds and is run under set weight plus penalties conditions.
2022 HDF McNeil Stakes Information
Date Of The HDF McNeil Stakes: 27/8/22
Time Of The HDF McNeil Stakes: TBA
Venue For The HDF McNeil Stakes: Caulfield Racecourse
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Prizemoney for the race, as of the 2021 running, is $200,000.
The 2021 winner was Bruckner. Bruckner is doing fairly well, although he has been in just five races to the middle of 2022. After winning the HDF McNeil Stakes, he supplied his connections with a third place run in the Group 2 Danehill Stakes and a second in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud, both at Flemington. He is by Snitzel, so he had better be good.
In the HDF McNeil Stakes, Bruckner was quite good, beating Artorius, winner of the Blue Diamond Stakes and edging Artorius into third in the Coolmore.
History of the HDF McNeil Stakes
The HDF McNeil Stakes is a newer race, first run in 1989, 90 years after the feature race of the meeting, the Group 1 Memsie Stakes.
The age restriction obviously reveals that the race can never have a multiple winner.
The race has had some notable winners that have gone on to greater glory by winning at higher levels. Many of the winners were also definite Group 3 types – good enough to get a win, but needing some good luck on their part and bad luck on the part of opponents.
The first truly notable winner of the race made her appearance in 2006 in the form of Miss Finland. She was the first of three winners from that era that represents the zenith of the HDF McNeil Stakes in terms of winning better races subsequent to winning this one.
When the race debuted in 1989, it was called the HDF McNeil Quality. It has been the HDF McNeil Stakes since 1995.
It was run over 1100 metres from the outset until the 2006 edition, when it was lengthened to the current 1200 metres.
The race was an unlisted handicap when it first jumped in 1989. It remained so for the 1990 race, gaining Listed status in 1991 and running under that classification through 1998. It was elevated to Group 3 status in 1999. This gradual change in class is seen in the list of HDF McNeil winners – none of the better types won until after the race achieved Group status.
Race Venue for the HDF McNeil Stakes
The HDF McNeil Stakes has always been run at Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne. The current spot it occupies on the Australian Thoroughbred racing calendar sees it at an early spring Caulfield meeting that features the Group 1 Memsie Stakes. The HDF McNeil Stakes was race four in 2021. The other Group races on the day are two Group 3 races, the Heath 1000 and the W. W. Cockram Stakes.
Caulfield is known as “The Heath” to local racing fans because the course was built on land around Melbourne that reminded many of the bog lands they recalled from the British Isles.
The course is triangular in shape. Racing first started there in 1859. The course currently serves as the headquarters for the Melbourne Racing Club, possibly to avoid conflict with the Victorian Racing Club at Flemington.
Caufield has about 25 race meeting per year, divided between spring and autumn. The major race, of course, is the Group 1 Caulfield Cup. Some of the others are the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes for two-year-olds and the Toorak Handicap. There are 12 Group 1, 8 Group 2 and 19 Group 3 races staged here.
Further details, including transportation to and from the track and other accommodations can be found on our page devoted to Caulfield Racecourse.
Racing History of the HDF McNeil Stakes
Make no mistake; the HDF McNeil Stakes is not the race we think of when we don our fancy duds to mingle in the members’. Yet it is an interesting race from the perspective of tracing its arc from its early days as an unlisted meeting filler to today, where it manages to attract above-average gallopers.
The first winner was Good Old Ted.
Ted was three when he won the race, so Old could have possibly been left out for him to be named Good Ted.
He was good, too, at least from the perspective of winning some races and making some money. We know that he was by Cool Ted out of Miss Kinneil. Miss Kinneil’s sire was Star of Heaven. Thinking we had uncovered another Star Kingdom descendant, we went digging, but while one extremely reputable source of Australian racing data claimed Star Of Heaven was an Aussie horse, the Thoroughbred registry listed Star Of Heaven as a Yank horse. There was an Australian horse by the same named Star Of Heaven foaled in 1961 that was sired by Ireland’s Star Kingdom, one of the most productive stallions in racing history. Good Old Ted had connections to the famous Star Kingdom as his dam’s grandsire.
Good Old Ted made 31 jumps for eight wins and seven placings and he earned about $250,000, which was okay for the late 80s. His best wins were the 1989 A J Moir Stakes, a Group 2 at the time, and the 1989 VATC Blue Diamond Prelude, which was a Group 3 race then.
The winner of the race in 1990 was Manitor.
The reputable source we mentioned earlier did not have a listing for Manitor. We found a record for a bay gelding from 1987. He was by Arch Sculptor out of Classic Thought. Five generations back, on his dam’s side, the connection to Ireland’s Star Kingdom was established.
As best we could determine, Manitor did not do enough to be remembered during that era before in-depth electronic records were common.
Tierce won in 1991.
He was the best of the three winners up to that time. He raced just 16 times for 11 wins and 3 placings. He won over $2.5 million. Tierce was by Victory Prince, which was his only Aussie ancestor. With just 16 starts and some major wins, Tierce was not long for the turf. He sired plenty of gallopers, but with the exception of Encounter, none earned above $200,000 and precious few, at that. Encounter, however, earned over $2 million by winning six Group 1s, so Tierce did well as a racer and at stud.
His big wins were the AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes, the Golden Slipper Stakes and the Champagne Stakes. At one point of his racing career, Tierce ran off a string of eight consecutive wins in a stretch or racing that found him going for 11 wins from 13 jumps, with the two he did not win producing seconds.
By the time the first filly won the race, 1992’s Snippet’s Girl, the historical records had improved.
Snippet's Girl began her racing at Ascot, ran three races in Queensland, and then won the HDF McNeil in her first start in Victoria. She never broke through above Group 3 and finished her racing in Queensland.
The following year finds Sequalo winning in 1993.
He showed great promise early on, winning his first five jumps. Victory number four in that streak was the HDF McNeil and victory number five was the Group 3 C S Hayes Stakes. His next wins were the A J Moir and the Linlithgow Stakes. Both races were Group 2 then. His last win was the 1996 Chirnside Stakes, a Group 2 sprint at Caulfield Racecourse.
The winner for 1994 was Danzero.
He won over $1.3 million and his named tipped us to an ancestor’s list that included Danehill for his sire, Danzig for his grandsire and Northern Dancer for his great-grandsire.
Danzero made only 9 jumps for 4 wins and 3 placings, so he was destined for stud duties. He was the first Group 1 winner for his sire by winning the 1994 Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes.
Very few of Danzero’s progeny have the dreaded “unraced” beside their names. We nearly wore out the scroll function of our computer mouse looking at the list of progeny. Some of his best were Niconero ($3.4 million), Fairway ($2.6 million), Dance Hero ($3.9 million), Country Music ($1.1 million) and Extra Zero ($1.7 million).
Gold Ace won the HDF McNeil Stakes in 1995.
His earnings from 17 jumps for seven wins and seven placings brought him just under $1 million in prizemoney. His last victory and final race was the 1996 Group 1 Salinger Stakes. Prior, he had Group 1 wins in The Galaxy and the Lightning Stakes. He sired multiple stakes winners, but nothing even close by comparison with Danzero.
The second filly to win the race was 1996’s Valourina.
She did not amount to much as a racer. She gave birth to 16 named foals by some prestigious sires, including two to Redoute’s Choice, two to Encosta De Lago and two to Fastnet Rock, but only Media by Gilded Time came close to $1 million in prizemoney.
The following year gave us another filly for the winner, 1996’s La Baraka.
She was a good racer, but only making 10 jumps kept her prizemoney to around $640,000. The HDF McNeil was her second race after she won a Group 3 race in South Australia. Her best win was the Group 1 Galaxy in 1998.
La Baraka had great lines. Her sire was Euclase and dam Triscay. Other notables in the line were Marscay and Biscay.
The 1998 winner, Theatre was a handy type. He was going well when he won the McNeil, beginning with a third to Dane Ripper and Sir Boom in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes, followed by the McNeil victory, a win in the Group 2 Ascot Vale Stakes, and a second in the Group 1 Vic Health Cup. He came within a neck of winning the Group 1 Vic Health Cup, beaten into second by Lord Luskin. Another close chance was a second to Grand Archway in the 1999 Australia Stakes.
Other similar types won the race between 1999 and 2005, but 2006 gave us a champion named Miss Finland.
Miss Finland was by Redoute’s Choice, so her $4.6 million in prizemoney surprises no one. She was the 2006 Australian Champion Two Year Old and 2007 Champion Three Year Old. In 2006, she won the Golden Slipper Stakes the Thousand Guineas and the Crown Oaks. In 2007, she won the Group 1 Memsie Stakes. She was the first filly to win the Slipper and then win the Thousand Guineas and the VRC Oaks as a three-year-old. She was the second filly ever to win the Australian Guineas.
The next year of 2007 produced another notable in Scenic Blast.
The HDF McNeil Stakes was his first Group win. He won over $2 million, winning Group 1 races in the Lightning Stakes and the Newmarket Handicap. A third Group 1 win was achieved in the 2009 King’s Stand at England’s Ascot. Those were his peak, but after returning from England, he continued to race and place well.
The well-known Starspangledbanner was the 2009 winner.
Like Scenic Blast before him, he went overseas to show the Pom horses that he was the better by winning the 2010 Golden Jubilee Stakes. He won six of his 16 jumps in Group races and was the Australian Champion Sprinter for 2009 and the European Champion Sprinter for 2010. He won over $2 million. Starspangledbanner was a prodigious sire, although none seemed especially notable.
Good types won the HDF McNeil Stakes between 2010 and 2016 before we find a notable in 2017 winner Merchant Navy.
Merchant Navy won about $2.1 million at today’s current exchange rate. His winnings were given in British Pounds. He earned that amount from 17 jumps for seven wins and three placings. Like his predecessors Scenic Blast and Starspangledbanner, he went to England and beat 23 gallopers to win the Group 1 Golden Jubilee at Ascot. He won another Group 1 there when he took the post at Newmarket in the Darley July Cup.
He now shuttles between Australia and Ireland, standing for Coolmore Stud. He has yet to produce a major winner, but it could be just a question of finding the right mare, as his pedigree is impressive mix of northern and southern hemisphere champions.
The following link will provide a video of Merchant Navy winning the HDF McNeil Stakes in 2017.
The 2018 winner, Native Soldier, never truly found good running and he was retired after 15 jumps for five wins and two placings for $368,000. His other major win was the Group 3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude.
Super Seth, the 2019 winner, has been exported. He has won over $1.6 million as of mid-2022 from 12 jumps for five wins and two placings. His only Group 1 win in Australia was the 2019 Caulfield Guineas, where he beat Alligator Blood by a nose.
The 2020 winner, Immortal Love, was by Snitzel, but Immortal Love never came near to Snitzel as a racer. He was retired after 10 starts for three wins.
Our last winner, Bruckner, was detailed at the beginning of this article. He is showing promise. Another Snitzel colt, he has just six races to this point, so it is hard to say what the future holds for this youngster.
The HDF McNeil Stakes has gained a solid foothold on the early spring racing calendar. It is attracting good gallopers, including a few of the class horses from time to time.
It could be a solid candidate for an upwards bump in classification in the future.
HDF McNeil Stakes Past Results
|2013||Fast 'n' Rocking|
|2012||Lady Of Harrods|
|1999||Honour The Name|