The Moonga Stakes is a Group 3 race for any gender aged four years and above.
It is staged at Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne during the spring carnival and is run over 1400 metres of “The Heath” in the month of October, at the same meeting that features the Group 1 Caulfield Cup.
Moonga Stakes Race Details
Race Distance: 1400m
Prize Money: $200,000
How To Bet On The Moonga Stakes
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Moonga Stakes Betting Tips
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When Is The Moonga Stakes: 19/10/24
What Time Is The Moonga Stakes: TBA
Where Is The Moonga Stakes: Caulfield Racecourse
How To Live Stream The Moonga Stakes
To live stream the Moonga Stakes, TAB Account Holders can watch the race live.
More Details About The Moonga Stakes
Prizemoney for the race, as of the jump in 2021, is $200,000.
Buffalo River collected $120,000 of that pool when he beat King Magnus by ¾ of a length that he and hoop Jye McNeil opened at the line after the pair seized control of the race early on.
The replay of the 2021 Moonga Stakes can be viewed at the following link.
History of the Moonga Stakes
The Moonga Stakes was inaugurated in 1988 and it was won by the great champion Vo Rogue. The race was called the Richard Ellis Plate at the time. It was the Myer Stakes for two jumps, and then the Richard Ellis Plate again in 1995. To honour the first winner, the race became the Vo Rogue Stakes in 1996.
The race has been called just about any name you can imagine, but worth mentioning is that it was called the Farewell to Northerly Stakes in 2003 when the dual Cox Plate (2001 and 2002) and Caulfield Cup (2002) hung up his boots.
Worry not, Vo Rogue fans. Queensland has a race in his honour, the Vo Rogue Plate for colts and geldings that jumps at Doomben Racecourse in Brisbane.
The only time the race has maintained the same name for longer than two jumps was in 2009 – 2011, when Betfair secured the naming rights.
Moonga Stakes came into use in 2012. We quite like the name and advise anyone else who shares our view to enjoy it before the MRC gets active, or an online bookie comes along and decides MoongaBet would be a good name for an agency and a race.
We had a peek trying to get a grasp on the race name. Richard Ellis is far too common to determine with certainty, but there was a character by that name who had a cup of coffee as a character on Downton Abbey.
We turned out attention next to Moonga. vBelieve it or not, we found just one galloper by that name, a mare born in 1887 that was bred in New South Wales by a certain F. S. Reynolds.
That seemed like a blind alley, so we simply googled Moonga and learned that it is a semi-precious stone that comes from red coral.
This developed into quite the rabbit hole where we learned that wearing Moonga, or red coral stone, could cause health problems.
That might explain our bad punting, so we disposed of all our Moonga jewellery – nose rings, earrings, eyebrow rings, necklaces and key fobs and all the rest – as quickly as was reasonable for writers.
The race seems to have always been 1400 metres and was graded as a Principal race through 1993, achieving Group 3 status in 1994.
Venue for the Moonga Stakes
The race has always been held at Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne.
Caulfield has been staging races since 1859 and the landscape around the area at the time caused some to compare it to the barren moors of Scotland, which led to the affectionate nickname “The Heath.”
The big event for the track is the Caulfield Cup in October.
Other important races held at Caulfield include the Toorak Handicap and the Memsie Stakes. At this time, Caulfield stages 12 Group 1, 8 Group 2 and 19 Group 3 races during the spring and autumn carnivals.
For a 1400-metre race such as the Moonga Stakes, the racers start from a straight chute off the course proper on the south side, opposite the stands. They begin to turn almost immediately and try to get on the rail. After navigating a tighter second turn, they head for home on the north side of the course.
Racing History of the Moonga Stakes
A newer-ish Group 3 race often does not present much in terms of racing history. We examined one recently where we were almost convinced that someone who had failed as a paint colour namer had made up the names of the winners of the race.
Not so the Moonga Stakes.
Right from Vo Rogue in 1988 through Buffalo River in 2021, the list of horses that have won the Moonga Stakes is sprinkled with better types that while not exactly the elite gallopers, were at least noteworthy for having won something other than the one race that got their names on the winners’ list.
There is no better place to begin than with the first winner of the race in 1988, Vo Rogue. For proof of his greatness, we could mention not one, but two races named in his honour with enough big victories almost to relegate the Moonga Stakes to barrier trial status.
He is an Australian Racing Hall of Fame galloper that won over $3.1 million for his career, where he had more wins than many lesser horses had jumps.
Vo Rogue, had he not been included in the Australian Racing Hall of Fame, would have been an automatic inductee into the Pro Group Racing Hall of Fame, because this gelding by Ivor Prince out of Vow made 83 jumps. We like those that spent more time racing than spelling. Plus, he was prepared by the aptly named trainer Vic Rail.
He won 26 times with 23 placings. He was very popular with the racing set because he just went all out and won from the front because he was just so much better than the other horses.
His big wins were the myriad, but for this example, we will use the Group 2 Blamey Stakes (1988 and 1989) and the Group 1s the C. F. Orr Stakes (1988, 1989 and 1990), the Turnbull Stakes, the William Reid Stakes and the Australian Cup (1989 and 1990).
He was versatile enough to win at trips from 1200 to 2000 metres and he faced top-flight competition as well.
A few of those he beat were Super Impose, Better Loosen Up and Bonecrusher.
The winner from 1989 was Heavenly View.
She was a race mare by Zephyr Bay out of Pre Empt. Of course, the line from her sire’s side was Biscay and the omnipresent Star Kingdom, so the fact that she made 24 jumps did not surprise us. She won four races and placed in 10.
We did not locate any progeny record for her.
The next winner from 1990 was another mare, Royal Pay.
She is credited with 7 wins and 12 placings from 45 jumps, although it does not appear as though any of those wins were of major races.
She was a good broodmare that supplied the racing world with six named foals, five of which earned money. Her best was Major Bee by Deputy Governor that won in Hong Kong to the tune of about $400,000 Aussie dollars.
The Moonga Stakes winner from 1991 was Steineck.
Another of those racers with lines connecting him to Star Kingdom, the gelding Steineck made just 19 jumps, but won seven and placed in two.
A true notable made the list for 1992, when Rough Habit took the race.
This New Zealand gelding by Roughcast out of Certain Habit is credited with winning 11 Group 1 races in Australia and New Zealand.
Rough Habit had Queensland to himself it seems.
He earned almost $4 million from 74 jumps for 29 wins and 13 placings.
His first big win was the Group 1 Queensland Derby at Eagle Farm in 1990. He won his first Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap in 1991, repeating in 1992. He drank from the Group 1 Doomben Cup in 1991, 1992 and 1993. He was a dual winner of the elite Group 1 All-Aged Stakes in 1992 and 1993, and he continued to win at Group 1 level with the 1994 Caulfield Stakes and Group 2 with the 1995 P. J. O’Shea Stakes., his final start in Australia.
The 1993 winner, Cogitate, was not a top racer, but he paid for his keep as a sire that supplied black-type horses aplenty. Fifteen of his progeny made some money.
Star Dancer was another New Zealand gelding that won the race in 1994. He won a Group 1 race at Ellsworth Racecourse in New Zealand, if that counts, and it was the 1995 Auckland Classic. He won that race for a second time in 1996. His best win was the Group 1 Futurity Stakes at Flemington in 1996.
A handy mare named Mamzelle Pedrille won the race in 1996.
Her win in the Moonga Stakes came on the heels of wins in the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes at Rosehill and the Listed Bill Ritchie Stakes at Randwick.
Mamzelle Pedrille had enough racing credentials to be served by top sires, including Lonhro, Octagonal and Grand Lodge, to mention some.
Of her 13 named foals, only one failed to win money. Her best in terms of money was Granzig by Grand Lodge, that won 16 times while making a remarkable 127 jumps. Olonhro by Lonrho earned over $220,000 from just nine jumps.
We could skip Another Neptune, the 1999 winner, except this bloke made 127 jumps. That is more than five times the number Black Caviar made. Just sayin’.
A gelding by Rubiton out of Ice Cream Sundae, Flavour was the winner of the Moonga Stakes in 2001. He won over $1.5 million and while we can forgive him for needing 79 jumps to do it, we actually appreciate him all the more for working for a living. The thing that stands out about Flavour for us is that he won on firm, good, soft and heavy tracks.
His win in the 1995 Group 2 Maribyrnong Plate found him beating Encosta De Lago by two lengths. He had a Group 1 win in the Salinger Stakes in 1998 and his next race found him winning the race named for his daddy, the Group 3 Rubiton Stakes at Caulfield.
The gelding Assertive Lad by Zeditave won over $3.3 million from just 16 jumps for eight wins and three placings was the winner in 2002.
He won his first three jumps, including the 2002 Magic Millions 2YO Classic at Gold Coast. After a second in the Group 3 Skyline Stakes at Canterbury and a third in the Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes, he won two consecutive Group 1 races with the Sires’ Produce Stakes and the Champagne Stakes, both at Randwick. He beat Shogun Lodge by almost three lengths to win the 2001 Group 1 Doncaster Handicap.
The winner of over $1.5 million from 22 jumps for nine wins and four placings, Thorn Park won the Moonga Stakes in 2003. His final win was the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm, but a four of his other wins came at Group 2 level.
He was a stud’s stud in the breeding sheds.
All You Wish earned over $2.3 million AUD racing in Hong Kong. Jimmy Chou earned over $3.6 million racing in New Zealand, while Ocean Park earned almost $3 million racing in Oz and NZ. Sauvito was another offspring that earned above $1 million.
If the topic is Return On Investment, Thorn Park has the best we have seen from winners of the Moonga Stakes.
We hope you are ready for the 2006 winner, Perfectly Ready by More Than Ready.
Perfectly Ready was prepared to win the Group 1 Goodwood at Morphettville in 2006.
He was more than ready in the sheds, with more than we care to count. Lord Ready won million in Hong Kong, as did Twin Delight.
The winner from 2011 was Love Conquers All.
Well, maybe not all, but Love Conquers All did a fair share of conquering. He won almost $1.4 million from 24 jumps for eight wins and seven placings.
The Moonga Stakes was his last win and while he never won at Group 1 level, many races found him near the front for fat pay envelopes.
Love Conquers All did most of his conquering as a stallion in the sheds, with his best being Im A Rippa out of Derippa in 2013. That progeny won almost as much as his dad did.
A notable winner from 2013 was Boban.
This gelding by northern hemisphere stock won over $2.8 million from 37 jumps for 11 wins and 3 placings.
In his jump ahead of his Moonga Stakes win, he took out the Group 1 Epsom Handicap and in the jump after, he won the Group 1 Emirates Stakes at Flemington. He beat It’s A Dundeel to win the Group 1 Chipping Norton at Warwick Farm in 2014, but he was nowhere in sight when It’s A Dundeel won the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth at Randwick.
Boban would have other Group 1 wins in the Doomben Cup and the Memsie Stakes at Caulfield in 2015.
Lucky Hussler was the 2014 winner.
He won over $2.1 million and notched a Group 1 win in 2015 when he was first across in the William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley. Another Group 1 win that same year was the Toorak Handicap at Caulfield.
Voodoo Lad, a gelding by I Am Invincible out of O’Fortuna, was the Moonga Stakes winner in 2016.
He won almost $2 million with just one Group 1 win, the Winterbottom Stakes at Ascot in WA, where he came from the back to beat Enticing Star into second with Malaguerra third.
The great Streets Of Avalon was the winner in 2019.
He was a gelding that managed to win over $2.4 million and the fact that he made 67 jumps makes us like him all the more.
His major wins were the Victoria Handicap in 2019, the Futurity Stakes in 2020 and the Australia Stakes and C. F. Orr Stakes in 2021.
Our final winner to date is from 2020, when Wild Planet took the race.
This gelding by Animal Kingdom out of Salutations is still listed as active. He is closing in on $1 million in earnings. His last two outings found him dead last in two Group 1 races, so it is difficult to say if he will race again.
The Moonga Stakes has seen the quality of the gallopers entered climb over the last several jumps, which we arbitrarily suggest was in 2013, the year that Boban won.
Then again, none of the recent winners, in our view, was superior to first winner Vo Rogue or 1992 winner Rough Habit.
We did find more than a few Group 1 winners and there were some good breeders on both sides of the equation.
Moonga Stakes Past Winners
|2019||Streets Of Avalon|
|2011||Love Conquers All|
|2007||Lord Of The Dance|