The Oakleigh Plate is Caulfield Racecourse’s premier sprint race held over 1100m in open handicap conditions. The race is held on the weekend between the Lightning Stakes and Newmarket Handicap in February of each year. Prize money for the Oakleigh Plate stands at $500,000.
The Oakleigh Plate is steeped in history having been one of the first sprint races of its time when it had its inaugural running in 1884.
During the month of February the Melbourne Autumn Carnival hosts the Oakleigh Plate as the second leg of its Autumn Sprint Series. Preceding the Oakleigh Plate is the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes and following is the Newmarket Handicap both held at Flemington.
History Of The Oakleigh Plate
The Oakleigh Plate was first run 137 years ago in 1887 when Caulfield Racecourse was first finding its feet under the control of the Victorian Amateur Turf Club. The race was run over 1100m and is considered one of the oldest sprint races in Australia.
As definitely one of Australia’s most recognised sprint races the time honoured Oakleigh Plate was first won by a horse called Malua. Malua won the Plate carrying the huge weight of 60kgs. After winning the Oakleigh, Malua would then go on to win the Newmarket Handicap carrying the same weight.
Almost all of the editions of the Oakleigh Plate have been run at Caulfield apart from two instances. The first was during the Second World War Caulfield Racecourse was donated to the Military in order to house soldiers so during this time the Oakleigh Plate was run at Flemington.
The second instance was where The Plate was run at Sandown due to development work being undertaken at Caulfield in 1997. That year the race was won by Drum for trainer C Brindley.
Oakleigh Plate is known to attract a field of impressive sprinters every year. The winner of the Oakleigh Plate over the years has usually been good and in some cases emphatic in victory.
The lead up races trainers consider in the run up to the Oakleigh Plate are the 1100m weight for age, Group 3 Rubiton Stakes, which is run on CF Orr Stakes Day at Caulfield Racecourse, and the Group 1 Lightning Stakes, a weight for age race over 1000 metres at Flemington Racecourse.
Just a few years ago in 1997 Sparticus won both the Rubiton Stakes and Oakleigh plate double for the first time under the ride of top jockey Darren Beadman for trainer Rick Hore-Lacy.
Race Venue For The Group 1 Oakleigh Plate
The home of the Oakleigh Plate has always been at Caulfield Racecourse apart from a hiatus as previously mentioned during WWII and reconstruction work in 1997.
Caulfield Racecourse can track its roots back to 1859 where a plot of crown land was allocated to the Victorian Amatuer Turf Club to host racing .
Located in the Eastern suburb of Caulfield the Caulfield Racecourse nowadays is a far cry from the bushes and heath land racing was run over in the mid 19th century with both training and event facilities to be a true hub of horse racing.
Even outside race days Caulfield is a buzzing vibrant place with world class training facilities that over 500 horses call home. The added benefit of having stables and the course proper so close together is that Caulfield can host trials and jump outs regularly so that trainers can fine tune there runners without having to travel too far.
On the track Caulfield hosts two key months of thoroughbred horse racing in Australia. October is the first where the Melbourne Racing Club hosts the several Group 1 races including the Caulfield Guineas, Caulfield Stakes and Caulfield Cup.
The second is February where Caulfield plays host to the first Group 1 of the new year in the CF Orr Stakes which is quickly followed by the second leg of the sprinting triple crown, the Oakleigh Plate.
Racing History Of The Oakleigh Plate
With over 130 editions of the Oakleigh Plate being run and won there are a huge number of runners that have gone on to have exciting careers whilst taking out Caulfields $500,000 feature.
As touched on before the first winner of the Oakleigh Plate was a horse called Malua who has roots as one of the first purchases by powerhouse of the racing industry, Inglis. Malua to this day continues to be one of only a handful of runners to have won both the Oakleigh Plate and the Newmarket Handicap in the same year.
Historically many famous horses such as Wakeful, Aurie’s Star and San Domenico have all won editions of the Oakleigh Plate and gone on to have huge careers afterwards.
In more recent times punters will recognise the names of breeding strongholds Snitzel and Fastnet Rock as previously winners of the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate as well as Schillaci who won the race back in 1992
Fastnet Rocks 2005 win was one of his first Group 1 wins on the way to one of the most successful careers in Australian horse racing. His win in the Oakleigh Plate was particularly emphatic as the then 3 year old came from 4 lengths off the pace to power over the top of the field.
The time honoured Oakleigh Plate is one of the most historic races in Australia and for racing purists will always carry a special place in the racing calendar.
Year after year the race attracts quality fields to Caulfield and is a great 2nd leg to the triple crown of sprinting during the Melbourne Autumn Carnival.
Right back to its inaugural running back in 1884 the Oakleigh Plate has been one of the key races of the season and offer sprinters a great chance to jump into the limelight in handicap conditions.
As a show piece, races in the lead up will be the focus for form but you never watch all the episodes without watching the season finale.
|Year||Oakleigh Plate Winners|
|2021||DH Celebrity Queen & Portland Sky|
|1998||Singing The Blues|
|1965||Time And Tide|
|1912||Queen Of Scots|
|1897||So And So|