The Naturalism Stakes (MRC Foundation Cup) is a Group 3 race held at Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne during the spring racing carnival during mid-September.
The race is open to any worthy horse three years of age and above and the running conditions are open handicap over 2,000 metres.
Naturalism Stakes Race Details
Race Distance: 2000m
Prize Money: $200,000
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When Is The Naturalism Stakes: 21/9/2024
What Time Is The Naturalism Stakes: TBC
Where Is The Naturalism Stakes: Caulfield Racecourse
How To Live Stream The Naturalism Stakes
To live stream the Naturalism Stakes, TAB Account Holders can watch the race live.
More Details About The Naturalism Stakes
Prizemoney for the race was boosted from $160,000 to $200,000 for 2021, with Noncomformist taking home the winner’s share of $120,000, along with a nifty little $750 bonus.
The replay of Noncomformist winning the 2021 naturalism Stakes can be found at the following link.
History of the Naturalism Stakes
If you were to visit Caulfield Racecourse on the day of the Naturalism Stakes, you might be perplexed at not finding the race listed on the race programme.
Naturalism Stakes is the official, registered name for the race. Naming rights go to sponsors in some instances to some other name that suits the purposes of the racing jurisdiction. If you chose to visit Caulfield and have a punt on the race in 2021, you would have been betting on the MRC Foundation Stakes.
That name has been used since 2015. The race ostensibly honours the great New Zealand galloper Naturalism that won over $3 million, with major wins in the Caulfield Stakes, Turnbull and Memsie Stakes and other high ranked races.
Naturalism Stakes was used as the running name from 2006 to 2014 and from 1995 – 2001.
When the race first debuted in 1983, it was called the VATC Royal Show Handicap. That was five years before Naturalism was born. Not even the MRC could have named a race for a horse that did not yet exist.
Other names the race has gone by are the Emirates Airline Stakes (2002), the Carnival Stakes (2003), the Dubai Duty Free Stakes (2004) and the Nad Al Sheba Club Classic (2005).
For 2021, the race carried the unwieldy name of Catanach’s Jewelers MRC Foundation Cup.
The Naturalism Stakes was originally an 1800-metre event from inception through 1993. It has been 2000 metres since 1994.
It began as a Listed race and was lifted to Group 3 in 2009.
Beginning in 2007, the winner of the race has received a ballot exemption for the Caulfield Cup. Only Jameka has won the Caulfield Cup off the Naturalism Stakes ballot exemption, but he could have won in any event and his win in the 2016 Caulfield Cup was an easy three-length victory.
Venue for the Naturalism Stakes
The race has always been run at Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne.
Located just nine kilometres from the central business district, Caulfield dates back to an era when nine kilometres removed a person from civilization, with the land where Caulfield sits giving the appearance of an untamed Scottish heath to the extent that the course is still often referred to as “The Heath.”
The most famous race held there is, of course, the Group 1 Caulfield Cup.
For a 2000-metre race such as the Naturalism Stakes, the horses start from a chute on the north side, just off the course proper. Racing experts tell us that starting from this chute limits field size, but the Naturalism Stakes seems to line up 16 gallopers or close to that number, which is not a limited field size in our view.
From the start, a slight turn leads into the first straight. They run two more turns before hitting the home straight and finishing near the end of that straight in front of the grandstands.
Racing History of the Naturalism Stakes
As of mid-2022, the Naturalism Stakes has been contested 39 times. There has never been a repeat winner.
As for true notable winners, we see only two significant names. The winner in 2006 was Zipping and in 2017, it was Harlem.
While we look at the list of winners for the race, we will be looking for that galloper that won during a career that was wrapping up or that won on the way to greater heights.
We will also look for horses that have exceeded their racing careers with productive stud careers.
The winner of the first race in 1983 was Mevron Boy.
His win in the Naturalism Stakes seems to be the only remnant of this son of Valve out of Swanella. Better Boy was the grandsire and France’s My Babu are two important ancestors. Mevron Boy won the race when it was the Royal Show Handicap at Listed level.
Mapperley Heights from 1984 was a Group 1 winner when she took out the South Australian Derby at Morphettville in the autumn carnival prior to winning the Naturalism in her spring campaign. As best we know, she won eight races, with some of the better wins coming in the Group 2 Kewney Stakes, the Group 3 Leopard Classic and the Group 3 Rain Lover Plate.
She was apparently good enough that when she was turned to breeding duties, she was served by Bletchingly, Danehill and Last Tycoon. There have been three stakes winners out of Mapperley Heights that have gone above $100,000 in earnings.
Top Banner from 1985 was unremarkable, despite having top USA horses Ruling and Bold Ruler in his lines. We know of no other race won by Top Banner and he was not a successful sire.
We are skipping the 1986 winner Sea Legend because the only thing even close to resembling anything legendary was the name.
Tristram from New Zealand won the Naturalism Stakes in 1987. He had some high finishes in major races, but the only win we can reasonably attribute to him was the Naturalism Stakes.
Tristram sired some decent winners, with Drama Amour out of Exclusive Empress achieving over $250,000 in stakes.
The winner from 1988 was Ebeli Show, a horse of mostly anonymous breeding that probably found his connections ecstatic at winning any race. We did not discover any breeding records for Ebeli Show.
Tiendi from 1989 was another forgotten galloper that claims only the Naturalism Stakes for a win, while it was still Listed level, called the Royal Show Handicap and was an 1800-metre event.
A better sort came along to win the Naturalism Stakes in 1990.
That winner was Just A Dancer, a New Zealand horse that managed to make 58 jumps as an entire, something that is not common. Just A Dancer won over $1.4 million NZD ($1.2 million AUD).
Just A Dancer was a busy sire. There were plenty of major stakes winners, a couple of the best being Crafty Dancer ($337,000) and Trounced ($NZD 292,000).
Golden Serpent was one of those sorts we admire simply for making 76 jumps. He never won above Listed level and the Naturalism Stakes was still Listed in 1993. He was twice declared the Tasmanian Racehorse of the Year, which is all well and good, but what is even weller and gooder is that Golden Serpent had a good career as a show jumper!
Top Rating from 1994 was another long campaigner, with 62 jumps. He managed to win at Group 3 and Group 2 level on occasion in a career that brought in almost $400,000 in earnings.
Peep On The Sly was a horse that ran in the Caulfield Cup, before the ballot exemption gained from winning the Naturalism Stakes in 1996 was applied, to run 13th in the Caulfield Cup. He won at Group 2 level for his highest ranked wins and he earned about $550,000.
Skybeau of New Zealand won in 1997. He was a capable stayer that posted good results in major races, including a third to Saintly and Count Chivas in the 1996 Melbourne Cup.
A winner of over $1.3 million the Naturalism Stakes winner for 1999 was Second Coming. He made 45 jumps for six wins and eight placings. He made most of his money by winning the Group 1 Victoria Derby in 1997. He made three starts in the Melbourne Cup, with his best finish being third to Brew and Yippyio in 2000.
There was a mare winner, a nice change from all the geldings, in 2000 when Celestial Show took the race. She had some strong runs in Western Australia and a Group 3 win, but her try in the Caulfield Cup did not result in a placing. Three tries in the Melbourne Cup did not include any strong runs.
Her last foal was in 2016 and she left no stakes winners of which we know.
A mare by Zabeel won the race in 2001. She was Inaflury and she won over $1.1 million from 31 jumps for nine wins and six placings. She won the Group 1 1000 Guineas in 1998, and backed with a win in the Group 1 Goodwood. Inaflury ran third in the 1999 Caulfield Cup.
Pentastic was the Naturalism Stakes winner from 2002.
He earned almost $2 million from 48 jumps for 7 wins and 13 placings. Some might include him in a category of “also ran,” because he came close to Group 1 wins on several occasions and he had strong runs in major races with high finishes.
The mare Rose Archway won in 2003.
She earned just under $1 million from 26 jumps for five wins and four placings. Her best win was the Group 1 AJC Oaks at Randwick. She dropped some minor stakes winners by Exceed And Excel and Anabaa.
Confectioner, the winner in 2004, won over $1.3 million.
During his best patch, he won the Naturalism Stakes was third to Elvestroem and Mummify in the 2004 Group 2 Turnbull Stakes, 15th in the Caulfield Cup and second to Grand Armee in the 2004 Group 1 MacKinnon Stakes.
The 2006 winner was the first true notable. It was Zipping, a horse that needs little by way of introduction.
He won over $4.3 million with major wins in the Moonee Valley Cup, the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes and Australian Cup in 2010, so the Naturalism Stakes was a warm-up. Zipping won the Sandown Classic four times in a row from 2007 – 2010.
After winning the race in 2007, the first year a ballot exemption to the Caulfield Cup was offered, Douro Valley ran second in the Caulfield Cup, although that second to Master O’Reilly was by more than two lengths. Douro Valley won the Group 1 Yalumba Stakes at Caulfield in 2008.
The next winner we want to examine if the 2016 Naturalism Stakes winner, Jameka.
As we mentioned earlier, he was the only galloper to win the Caulfield Cup off the naturalism Stakes ballot exemption. She earned almost $5 million form just 24 jumps for six wins and nine placings. In her first nine starts, she finished no worse than fourth, including successive wins in the Group 2 Exceptional Teas Vase and the Group 1 Crown Oaks at Flemington. Jameka won the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes from Hartnell after winning the Naturalism Stakes, and then she won the Caulfield Cup in 2016 from Scottish by three lengths.
Her last race was the Group 1 BMW at Rosehill, which she won from Humidor by over six lengths.
Next came 2017 winner Harlem.
He made 50 jumps for five wins and six placings en route to earning over $2.7 million. He had big wins in the Group 1 Australian Cup in 2018 and 2019. In major races he did not win, he either placed or was well up in the field.
Of the remaining three, Night’s Watch (2018), Brimham Rocks (2019) and Orderofthegarter (2020), Brimham Rocks by Fastnet Rock was the top earner with over $1 million.
The Naturalism Stakes is a lead up event for some of the better gallopers that want to see if they have the staying ability to take on the extra 400 metres of the Caulfield Cups.
Many winners of the race have made strong runs in the major Australian staying races, but for the most part, winning the Naturalism Stakes was the high water mark of solid-if-not-spectacular careers.
We found some good earners among the list of Naturalism Stakes winners, but we did not find a Melbourne Cup winner or a Cox Plate winner and only Jameka to win the race off the Naturalism Stakes ballot exemption.
Naturalism Stakes Past Winners
|1996||Peep On The Sly|
|1990||Just A Dancer|