The Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes is run at Caulfield each October. It is part of the spring meeting that outside the meeting the following week that offers the Caulfield Cup, is the biggest meeting held at Caulfield during the spring.
The major Group 1 races on the day of the Herbert Power Stakes are the Caulfield Guineas, the Toorak Handicap and the Caulfield Stakes.
The Herbert Power Stakes itself is run as a Quality handicap, covers 2400 metres and is open to all horses aged three years and above that have won at least one race previously.
As of mid-2021, the race offers $300,000 in prizemoney and the winner receives a ballot exemption for the Caulfield Cup.
History of the Herbert Power Stakes
The race we now know as the Herbert Power Stakes made its first jump in 1898, so there is a vast history of great Thoroughbreds winning this race. There have been multiple gallopers that have won the race on more than one occasion.
It was not always the Herbert Power Stakes, though, as Herbert Power (1833 – 1919) was not even a gleam in his daddy’s eye when the race went off for the first time.
The race was the Eclipse Stakes from 1898 – 1919, the year of Herbert Power’s death. There was a colt named Eclipse foaled in 1764 in Great Britain. He was foaled during a solar eclipse in April of that year, was never defeated in 17 jumps and was retired because no one would bet on any other horses in a race with him.
Would contrarian Aussies name a race for a Pom horse?
Possibly, but the wait for a race named the Pro Group Racing Stakes has been long and is probably futile.
There was an Australian Eclipse foaled in 1885. For that matter, there have been many colts and five fillies by that name, so the origin of the name is not clear to us, particularly whether the Australia foaled Eclipse was any good.
From 1920 until 1992, the race was called the Herbert Power Handicap. It became the Quick-Eze Stakes in 1993, the Perrier Mineral Water Stakes for 1997, simply the Perrier Stakes in 1998 and 1999, the Herbert Power Stakes again in 2000, the Winning Edge Presentations Stakes in 2001 and finally the Herbert Power Stakes in 2009.
Herbert Power played a key role in the early days of racing in Victoria. He helped form the Victoria Amateur Turf Club. He was the chairman several times and a trustee of Caulfield Racecourse.
The race is considered important for Thoroughbreds targeting the Melbourne and Caulfield Cups; at least it has been since after the first two jumps held at a mile, the trip was extended first to 2200 metres from 1900 – 1919 and to 2400 metres from 1920 forward.
It was a Principal race from the outset. The ARB made it Group 3 for 1979 and 1980. It has been Group 2 since 1981.
Race Venue for the Herbert Power Stakes
The Herbert Power Stakes has always been run at Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne except for the World War II years, where Caulfield was used by the military.
Caulfield Racecourse is often referred to as “The Heath” by the loveable locals who allude to the days when Caulfield was wild and marshy and so far from the civilization of Melbourne. It is all of nine kilometres from the CBD. It sits on a reserve that supplies other forms of recreation and a public park.
Hard to imagine anyone needing anything other than horseracing for recreation…
Caulfield serves has the headquarters for the Melbourne Racing Club. Its most prestigious race is the Caulfield Cup and some horses that have won the Herbert Power Stakes have gone on to win the Caulfield Cup in the same year.
More specific information can be found here.
Racing History of the Herbert Power Stakes
Given the longevity of the Herbert Power Stakes, the prime spot on the spring racing calendar and the implications for Caulfield and Melbourne Cup horse preparations, the race has a distinguished list of winners.
We cannot cover them all, so we are limiting ourselves to major champions, those that have completed a Herbert Power/Melbourne or Caulfield Cups double and horses that have won the race on more than one occasion.
Many of the legends we will encounter on the winners list are examined in detail on our pages devoted to the great champion gallopers.
The first winner of the Herbert Power Stakes in 1898 was Cocos. Records from that era are spotty, but we did learn that along with the Herbert Power Stakes, Cocos won the Group 1 VRC Derby.
Given the era in which Cocos competed, this horse had more Aussie ancestors than many we have seen from that period. His grandsire was Chester, one of the most important sires in the history of Australian racing. Further back, Cocos had lines connecting him to Sir Hercules, sire of 1866 Melbourne Cup winner The Barb.
We skip ahead a few years to find the familiar name of Wakeful, Herbert Power winner in 1902 and 1903. This Hall of Fame horse won just about everything from 1901 – 1903. She did not race until she was four. She won so many big races that the Eclipse Stakes (original name) is not even mentioned. She won the Caulfield Stakes twice, the Melbourne Stakes three times and the Essendon Stakes twice.
Just a few years later we have a dual winner in 1906 and 1907’s Poseidon. He won the 1906 Melbourne Cup and two Caulfield Cups. Five of his other wins were in races now classified as Group 1.
Poseidon was one of six horses to win the Herbert Power – Melbourne Cup double. He is one of six to fill the Herbert Power – Caulfield Cup double, but he was the only galloper to repeat the second double with the Caulfield Cup.
The winner in 1908 and 1909 was Alawa.
We found a reference to him from a newspaper article from 2 October 1909 as he was being prepared for the Melbourne Cup, but we know that Prince Foote won the Cup that year, so the newspaper article did not help.
Comedy King, another all-time great, was the winner in 1911. He was the first northern hemisphere horse to win the Melbourne Cup, which happened in 1910.
A dual winner immediately followed in 1913 – 14 when the race was won by Anna Carlovna. Winning the Herbert Power Stakes was one of the few facts we could locate. She was mainly British on the sire side and mostly New Zealand on the dam side.
We are going to ignore six good horses that won the race from 1915 – 1920, because we arrive at the 1921 champion Eurythmic.
Eurythmic won the Caulfield Cup in 1920 and the Sydney Cup in 1921. He won the Memsie and Caulfield Stakes each three times and two Melbourne Stakes.
Easingwold was the next dual winner from 1923 and 1924. He had a good career and raced successfully in Western Australia, where he won the Osbourne Stakes in 1922 and 1925.
Royal Charter, the 1925 winner, won the race again in 1927. We believe he was the only horse to win twice with an intervening year. His sire was 1911 Herbert Power Stakes winner Comedy King. Other good wins for this horse were the Memsie Stakes, Underwood Stakes and Caulfield Stakes.
We now skip the winners from the years 1928 – 1948, knowingly ignoring some good horses because the list is too long to look at each winner.
Here we insert that in 1942 the race was run in divisions.
The next four years featured dual back-to-back winners.
The first is Dashing Beau from 1949 and 1950. Not much has been preserved about Dashing Beau other than his lineage.
The next two years went to Durham. Not much to be known about him. We were able to determine that he also won the 1951 VRC King’s Cup.
It pains us a bit to ignore 1953 winner My Hero and 1954 winner Wodalla. We have encountered them both before and know that they were good gallopers, but we have to move to 1955, when the winner was the legendary Rising Fast.
Rising Fast was a New Zealand Stayer. He is profiled in depth on our pages devoted to the great horses, so all we will say about him here is that he won the 1954 Melbourne Cup, the 1954 and 1955 Caulfield Cup and the 1954 Cox Plate. He came in second in the 1955 Caulfield Cup and his trifecta from 1954 in winning the Spring Grand Slam is singular in Australian Thoroughbred racing history.
Once again, we ignore good horses that won the Herbert Power Stakes from 1956 through 1972 to find our next significant winner in 1973’s Gala Supreme. Gala Supreme had run second in that year’s Caulfield Cup before winning the 1973 Melbourne Cup, but the attention would have been on Caulfield Cup winner Swell Time as the entire country of Australia would have been watching for a Cups double.
Another Herbert Power – Melbourne Cup double was supplied in 1976 by Van der Hum. He was a wet track specialist from New Zealand that ran third in the Caulfield Cup on a heavy track and he took those mudder skills to Flemington to beat Bart Cummings’s local and race favourite Gold And Black.
Next to fill the Herbert Power – Melbourne Cup double was the 1978 winner Arwon. Another New Zealander, we have encountered Arwon before and he is an instant inductee into the Pro Group Racing Hall of Fame for making 67 starts. Another good win by Arwon was the 1980 Sandown Cup.
Fast forward to 1999, quite a gap, we admit, that ignores the likes of Cossack Warrior (1987) and Just A Dancer (1990), but we have to save space for 1999 winner Rogan Josh.
Rogan Josh filled the Herbert Power – Melbourne Cup double that year. He was a winner of nearly $2.7 million in prizemoney from 38 jumps for 13 wins and seven placings. His other big win was the 1999 Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes.
We did notice that there were no multiple winners of the Herbert Power Stakes since 1952’s Durham. There could be any number of reasons for that, but our opinion was that it was an indication of the decline in staying races with the accompanying decline in breeders making staying horses.
Master O’Reilly won in 2007 and won the Caulfield Cup that same year. He was given a harsh penalty for the Melbourne Cup. His Caulfield Cup victory was his last win. His runs in the Melbourne Cup were less than stellar. He earned almost $3 million from 26 starts for eight wins and seven placings.
Sea Moon, the 2013 winner, was foaled in 2008 and spent most of his time running in England and he jumped in the U.S. for a second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. He was sold to Lloyd Williams and tried nine times in Australia, but the Herbert Power was his only win down under. He ran 13th in the 2013 Melbourne Cup and stone motherless in the 2014 Caulfield Cup. Williams returned the horse in 2015 and asked for a refund.
Nothing stands out on the list of subsequent Herbert Power Stakes winners, but a staying race of the stature of the Herbert Power Stakes and its implications for the Melbourne and Caulfield Cups or the Cox Plate dictate that this is not a race for the feeble.
The most recent winner, from 2020, is Chapada.
He is still racing as of late August 2021 and he has made the most of three wins and 10 placings for above $1 million in earnings.
The Herbert Power Stakes is a key preparation race for some horses targeting the Melbourne and Caulfield Cups. The race has featured some of the elite performers from the history of Australian Thoroughbred racing.
|Year||Herbert Power Stakes Winners|
|2019||The Chosen One|
|1990||Just A Dancer|
|1985||Fil De Roi|
|1976||Van Der Hum|
|1972||Scotch And Dry|