The Group 1 Memsie Stakes is one of the key lead up races for the top Thoroughbreds preparing for the spring carnival races, such as the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup, even though those three races are considerably longer that the 1400 metres of the Memsie Stakes.
The race is run under weight-for-age conditions and is run in late August by horses aged three years and above.
Memsie Stakes Race Details
Race Distance: 1400m
Prize Money: $1,000,000
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When Is The Memsie Stakes: 7/9/24
What Time Is The Memsie Stakes: TBA
Where Is The Memsie Stakes: Caulfield Racecourse
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More Details About The Memsie Stakes
It is the first Group 1 of the racing season in Victoria and is run under the supervision of the Melbourne Racing Club (MRC).
A race of 1400 metres is a challenge for the sprint types, while those being targeted for longer trips are usually at a disadvantage to fitter horses that have be prepared specifically for the Memsie Stakes. The race is often won by less notable gallopers, showing that speed and training seem to have the upper hand over pure class.
The race had a nice rise in prizemoney in 2021, from $750,000 to $1 million, so the 2021 winner, Behemoth earned $602,000 for the win, compared to his $452,000 haul for winning the race in 2020.
History of the Memsie Stakes
The Memsie Stakes is one of those heritage type races that span most of the history of Australian Thoroughbred racing history.
The name comes from a horse owner and breeder named John Catto, who named an estate in Scotland Memsie after a nearby township. Catto was born near there and moved to Australia in 1852.
The race was first run in 1899. Judging from the winners list, winning the Memsie Stakes was practically a requirement for gaining admittance to the Australian Racing Hall of Fame, or so it seems, when the list is examined and names such as Eurythmic, Heroic, Phar Lap and Ajax appear, only to be followed by the likes of Comic Court, Rising Fast, Manikato and Sunline.
As a weight-for-age-race, there have been many multiple winners.
Unlike many races, the Memsie Stakes has remained true to its name for the entire length of its existence.
The length of the race has been altered on many occasions. For the first year, it was 1600 metres, which was considered a mile at the time.
It was stretched to 1800 metres for many years, from 1900 through 1980. It was run once again at 1600 metres in 1971, still a mile then, and was officially set at 1600 metres in 1972; the year metrication was introduced to racing. It was 1600 metres from 1972 through 1979. The race was shortened to 1400 metres in 1980 and has remained so since.
The race grade was Principal until 1979, when it was declared Group 2, which lasted until 2012, with 2013 marking the first year it was run as a Group 1 race.
With the exception of 1984, the race has always been held at Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne. It was run at Sandown in 1984 and if memory serves, the shift would have been due to work being done on Caulfield Racecourse.
Venue for the Memsie Stakes
Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne is one of four metro Thoroughbred tracks in the city. The others are Flemington, Moonee Valley and Sandown, if we are being generous by including Sandown so far from the CBD and holding so few major races.
Caulfield is the headquarters for the Melbourne Racing Club. The land is owned by the Crown and was established to support racing, recreational activities and a public park.
Known as “The Heath” to the locals, Caulfield has a nifty triangular shape with banked turns.
There are about 25 days of racing each season, split between the spring and autumn carnivals. There are currently 12 Group 1, 8 Group 2 and 19 Group 3 races. Group races span the gamut of conditions, from sprints of 1100 metres up to the 2400 metres of the track’s most prestigious race, the Caulfield Cup.
Racing History of the Memsie Stakes
The racing history of the Memsie Stakes appears to be of a similar pattern to what we see whenever we examine the winners of a legacy race such as this. The early winners were mainly nondescript, even though there were good horses at the time.
The winner of the first Memsie Stakes in 1899 was Veneda.
Veneda was by a New Zealand stallion named Escutcheon by an Aussie mare named Happy Bride. We don’t know much about Veneda as a racer, but his lines supplied some interesting factoids. His grandsire was the famous British horse Musket. Musket’s dam was given as West Australian Mare. One generation further back was another, a male, with the name West Australian that was credited with being the first English Triple Crown winner.
The second year the Memsie Stakes was run produced a dead heat between Eiridsdale and Massinissa. Massinissa was apparently a better type. He won the Toorak Handicap the year prior.
The year of 1901 produced a significant winner in Hymettus. The 1901 Memsie Stakes was the lead up for his second Caulfield Cup win, the first having occurred three years earlier.
We skip ahead to the first truly notable winner of the Memsie Stakes.
It was Artilleryman in 1919. He won the Melbourne Cup that same year, lending further support to the position that horses use the Memsie Stakes as early spring preparation. He won four other major races in 1919 and he continued with five big wins in 1920.
Artilleryman set the stage for the winner of the next three races.
It was Eurythmic taking the top spot in the Memsie Stakes of 1920, 1921 and 1922. Eurythmic lived for only nine years, but between 1918 and 1922, he won 21 major races, including the 1920 Caulfield Cup and three consecutive wins in the Caulfield Stakes.
Following Eurythmic, the winners list took a big leap toward quality fields and the evidence lies in the name of the winner in 1925 and 1926.
That one was Heroic.
Heroic won from the age of two and he raced through the age of five, when he won the Cox Plate in 1926 along with five other races that are now classified as Group 1 races. He was possible better as a sire, with names such as Ajax, Melbourne Cup winner Hall Mark and Hua, to mention only three productive progeny of Heroic.
The next notable we encounter is Gothic from 1928. Gothic was a stallion foaled in 1923 that gave a nice boost to the reputation of a jockey named Jim Pike. Gothic was a solid winner for four seasons and winner of eight races that are now considered Group 1. He won the Newmarket Handicap in 1927 and 1928. He won from 1200 to 2000 metres. Gothic set a course record for Caulfield when he won the Memsie Stakes while carrying 62 kg. One measure of Gothic’s ability is that he beat Amounis on four occasions.
No one will blame us for skipping the next two winners, because the 1931 winner was Phar Lap. We do not think anyone will blame us for not devoting more space to Phar Lap, but his story is so well known that we will leave it at the point of mentioning that Phar Lap won only once as a two-year old, but after a less than encouraging start to his three-year-old campaign, he won or finished second or third in his next 15 races, with 13 of those 15 supplying victories.
At four, Phar Lap made 16 starts for 14 wins and two seconds.
For his final season, Phar Lap made 10 starts, winning the Cox Plate and Melbourne Stakes before failing to defend his 1930 Melbourne Cup win, finishing eighth.
His next race was in California, where he won the 1932 Agua Caliente Handicap shortly before his tragic death.
We next find a two-time winner from 1933 and 1934 named Waltzing Lily. She was a better type and her racing in 1933 supplied wins in the Newmarket Handicap, Standish Handicap and a Futurity Stakes win from 1934.
The next notable winner on this list is 1935 winner Hall Mark.
This son of 1925 and 1926 Memsie Stakes winner Heroic followed in the hoof steps of his sire and went one better by winning the Melbourne Cup in the same year he won the Memsie Stakes, 1935.
A turf giant named Ajax, another Heroic product, won the Memsie Stakes in 1938, 1939 and 1940.
As with Phar Lap, we will not devote too much space to Ajax, as he is a legend and has been covered extensively on other pages on this site. He won three consecutive All Aged Stakes the same year he won the Memsies. The same could be said of the Futurity Stakes. His bet win was the 1938 Cox Plate.
Following Ajax, more great winners came along, such as Tranquil Star (1945), Comic Court (1949/50) and Rising Fast (1956). In that era was a lesser-known runner and two-time Memsie Stakes winner from 1954 and 1955 named Coppice.
We had to skip them in order to mention the four-time winner Lord for 1958 – 1961.
Lord was a New Zealand bred galloper that made 80 starts. We here at PGR always appreciate the working types. He won the Caulfield Stakes three times, the C F Orr Stakes twice and the St. George Stakes twice as part of a career that produced 28 wins and 24 placings.
Continuing the pattern of New Zealand horses running well and winning the Memsie Stakes, we find the 1968 winner, Galilee.
Galilee won major races in abundance. He was the first and is still the only horse to win the Caulfield, Melbourne and Sydney Cups in the same season. Other major wins were the VRC Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the Toorak Handicap and the Turnbull Stakes. Galilee did much to burnish the image of trainer Bart Cummings.
We are taking a leap past many years, years when there were no truly notable winners and no multiple winners.
When we arrive at 1982, we see the name of Manikato on the list of winners of the Memsie Stakes. Manikato did something none other than Kingston Town had done – winning over $1 million in stakes. He virtually owned the Futurity Stakes and the William Reid Stakes, winning the former four times and the latter a staggering five consecutive times. Other big wins were the Blue Diamond and the Golden Slipper Stakes in 1978.
With the quality of the Memsie Stakes winners, we are compelled to jump forward in time again to 1987 to find Rubiton.
Rubiton managed to exceed the prizemoney of Manikato, yet he won only four major races outside the Memsie Stakes – the 1987 Cox Plate, Futurity Stakes, Underwood Stakes and Mackinnon Stakes.
The next batch of notable winners includes The Phantom (1990), Redelva (1991) and Naturalism (1992). Those three could supply material for three articles such as this, but we have to overlook them here.
The next notable winner we examine is Dane Ripper from 1998.
The growth in prizemoney by this time sees Dane Ripper winning over $3 million, but she won only four major races, including the 1997 Cox Plate.
Another name we frequently encounter on the list of winners of big races was Sunline from 2000 and 2001.
Another New Zealander, Sunline was one of the best gallopers ever. She won 32 times and placed 12 times from 48 starts. She won the Cox Plate in 1999 and 2000, the All Aged Stakes in 2000 and 2002, the Coolmore Classic in 2000 and 2002 and the Waikato Sprint in 2001 and 2002. She was the Australian Horse of the Year and the Australian Champion Filly or Mare in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
We see a well-known name as the winner of the 2005 Memsie Stakes – Makybe Diva. We will say just three things about her. She won the Melbourne Cup in 2003, 2004 and 2005. If this is not the clinching evidence that the Memsie Stakes produces Melbourne Cup winners and good staying horses, we do not know what is considered clinching evidence.
Three notable Memsie Stakes winners followed Makybe Diva.
They were El Segundo, Miss Finland and Weekend Hussler.
El Segundo won the Cox Plate in 2007. Miss Finland was the 2006 Golden Slipper Stakes winner and was honoured with the titles of Australian Champion Two Year Old for 2006 and Australian Champion Three Year Old in 2007. Weekend Hussler won six races that were Group 1 when he won them and his Memsie Stakes win was when the race was Group 2. He also won the Makybe Diva Stakes when it was a Group 2 race.
So You Think was the 2010 winner.
He twice won the Cox Plate and amassed over $10 million in earnings from 23 jumps for 14 wins and 5 placings.
The most recent era of Australian Thoroughbred racing has supplied Memsie Stakes winners that were two of our favourites of all time.
Black Heart Bart won in 2016 and placed the following year as a seven-year-old. He ran the race as a nine-year-old, but was beaten into eighth.
The other object of our admiration is 2018 winner Humidor. The thing we admired most about Humidor is that he was always willing to chase Winx in the Cox Plate. He almost had her in 2017, losing by half a length, but he was closing hard and if the race had been 50 metres longer…
The 2019 winner was Scales of Justice.
He was a product of Western Australia and was winning at Ascot and Belmont before venturing east and acquitting himself nicely at Flemington, Caulfield and Moonee Valley. The 2019 Memsie Stakes proved to be his last win.
The Memsie Stakes occupies an interesting spot on the racing calendar.
Many staying types will use the race as early preparation for the big spring races.
The Memsie Stakes has produced an unusually deep list of great champion gallopers and should continue to do so well into the future.
Memsie Stakes Past Winners
|2019||Scales Of Justice|
|2016||Black Heart Bart|
|2010||So You Think|
|1923||Maid Of The Mist|