Three-year-olds only compete in the MRC Group 2 Sandown Guineas at Caulfield Racecourse during November over 1600 metres under set weight conditions for $300,000 in prizemoney.
The most recent winner was Allibor that collected $158,000 for the win while prizemoney was still given as $250,000. Video of that win can be seen at the following link.
History of the Sandown Guineas
The Sandown Guineas was first run in 1957. From that inception through 1967, the race was for fillies only. The race was opened to all three genders, colts, fillies and gender neutral in 1968.
It was classified as a Principal race up until 1979 when the Group system found it made into a Group 2 event.
The distance has been a consistent 1600 metres save for 1968 and 1969, when the MRC decided to try it a 2100 metres.
There have been some notable winners over the years, but few that would be considered from the ranks of the elite. The one exception was when it was a fillies only race and when we look at the name, we almost find ourselves wondering what a racer of her quality was doing in a race that comes so late in the spring racing season.
The MRC has moved the race to Caulfield Racecourse on a number of occasions. From 1957 to 1964, it was the case after the original Sandown Racecourse had been closed. It was run there again in 2013 and it will be there for the upcoming race in 2021.
Venue for the Sandown Guineas
As of early September 2021, the fate of Sandown Racecourse seems to be moving in the direction of redevelopment into housing. It is hard to justify such valuable land, 112 hectares of prime Melbourne suburb, being used for Thoroughbred races and since the reopening in 1965, motor racing.
Thoroughbred racing at Sandown dates back to 1888. The MRC website now gives the facility as staging 36 race days during the year.
Sandown actually has two turf tracks. One is called Sandown Hillside and the other Sandown Lakeside. That reconfiguration of the track took place beginning in 2001 and racing commenced in January of 2003.
There are six Group races staged at Sandown. They are the Sandown Guineas, the Group 2 Zipping Classic and the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes, Sandown Stakes, Summoned Stakes and Kevin Heffernan Stakes.
The MRC changed the name of the course to Sportingbet Park in 2008. It was then William Hill Park until 2015. As of the latter part of 2021 and since 2016, it has been known as Ladbrokes Park.
A complete rundown of Sandown can be found here.
Since for 2021, the race is run at Caulfield.
Racing History of the Sandown Guineas
We teased that there was one winner of the Sandown Classic that achieved legendary status. She was far above the usual sort that runs and wins the race. She won when the race was restricted to fillies and her win came early during the history of the race, so it will not be long until her name is revealed.
Anyone knowledgeable about Thoroughbred racing has from now until we get to the year of 1964 to guess her name. If we were to supply a clue, it might be that her name is the opposite of Heavy Toes.
The first winner from 1957 was named Orient.
The Thoroughbred pedigree website that provides some of our information lists her big win as the Queensland Oaks, which is now Group 1, but Orient could not have won in 1957, because the race was not held. She is listed as the 1958 winner, but it must have taken some sort of calendar skullduggery for a filly foaled in 1954 to be considered a three-year-old, but if anyone person or organisation is capable of that sort of thing, it would most definitely be the MRC.
The 1958 winner was But Beautiful.
We will eschew the cheap pun over what this horse could have been except for one strategically missing “t” in her name.
She may be the “best of the rest” as far as winners of the Sandown Guineas are concerned. She was Champion 3YO Filly in 1958 and her major wins include the Blamey Stakes, the now Group 1 Thousand Guineas and the Mimosa Stakes.
The winner for 1959 was Twilight Glow.
Not much has survived her by way of a racing resume. You might say that the twilight glow faded into night, but her other major win was the 1961 Williamstown Cup, the race that is now known as the Group 2 Zipping Classic.
The 1960 winner, Lady Sybil turned out well.
She amassed nine wins, including the VRC Flemington Oaks, the VATC Caulfield Guineas, the Moonee Valley Stakes and Edward Manifold Stakes.
The next winner from 1961 did a little better than Lady Sybil.
It was Indian Summer.
She had good lines, including Hyperion and Gainsborough on both sides and she had wins that have become Group 1. Those were the Thousand Guineas, VRC Oaks and the AJC Adrian Knox Stakes. At Group 2 level, in addition to the Sandown Guineas, she won the Edward Manifold Stakes and the Wakeful Stakes.
Birthday Card is not something our ungrateful kids fail to send us. Every year. She was a good filly that won the race in 1962. Her big win was the 1962 STC Golden Slipper Stakes.
Our 1963 winner was the New Zealand filly Ripa.
Ripa is given as having won 13 races. She set records for the Sandown Guineas and also in her major wins in the Toorak Handicap and the Newmarket Handicap. Her other good wins were the Craven ‘A’ Stakes (now the Salinger Stakes) and the Caulfield Invitation Stakes.
Here we are at 1964.
Has anyone guessed? Was our clue to easy?
The opposite of Heavy Toes and the 1964 winner of the Sandown Guineas was Light Fingers.
We lack enough superlatives to describe her.
This Australian Racing Hall of Fame inductee won the Melbourne Cup in 1965. Randwick has a Group 2 race called the Light Fingers Stakes. Rail operator CFCL Australia named a locomotive after her.
She is one of the greats profiled on our pages dedicated to the great champions and further details about her can be seen here.
The Sandown Guineas had three more jumps as a fillies only race.
The winners were Fire Band in 1965, Hialeah in 1966 and Begonia Belle in 1967.
Fire Band was by Hydrogen and she was okay. Hialeah appears to have been on the modest side. Begonia Belle appears to have been the best of the three by a considerable margin. Her other major wins were the Thousand Guineas, the VRC Lightning Stakes, MVRC Alister Clarke Stakes and the VRC Newmarket Handicap.
The 1968 Sandown Guineas was the first time the race was opened to include colts and geldings.
The winner that year was Always There.
He was a good galloper that won the 1968 Group 1 Victoria Derby, the Group 2 Moonee Valley Stakes and the Group 3 SAJC Sires’ Produce Stakes before any of those races received a Group ranking.
A truly significant winner was 1973’s Taj Rossi.
He was a Bart Cummings trained horse that reached his zenith in 1973 as the winner of the Cox Plate, Victoria Derby and enough other good races to be the Australian Horse of the year for the 1973 – 74 season.
The year of 1977 gave us the New Zealand stallion So Called.
The following year, So Called won the Cox Plate and he had another Group 1 win that year when he took out the Underwood Stakes.
The next two years of 1979 and 1980 gave us winners from when it was popular to name horses after winter themes.
The 1979 winner was Snowing, while the 1980 winner was Polar Air.
Neither of those was particularly interesting beyond the names.
The next winner of the Sandown Guineas that gets a closer look was Durbridge from 1990. He would be an automatic inductee into the PGR Hall of Fame for his 72 starts. He was further aided by over $3.3 million in earnings and six Group 1 wins. The Sandown Guineas was his first try at Group level and his fourth overall. His first win at Group 1 was the 1991 AJC Derby. His last Group 1 win was the 1994 George Main Stakes from Brave Warrior and he ran a respectable sixth in the 1994 Cox Plate.
Our 2002 winner, Dextrous, won her first two starts. Her Sandown Guineas win was sandwiched in between wins in the Listed Eliza Parks Stakes at Moonee Valley and the Group 3 Vanity Stakes at Flemington.
Kidnapped was a better sort that won the race in 2009.
He won the Group 1 SA Derby in 2010. He was close to winner More Joyous in the 2010 Toorak Handicap, but was handily beaten by So You Think in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes.
Pressday, the 2010 winner of the Sandown Guineas, earned almost $850,000 from just 13 jumps for five wins and one third place. He rose to prominence racing in Queensland, where he won the Group 2 Champagne Classic quite comfortably from the good horse Spirit Of Boom. Next up, he won the QTC Sires’ Produce Stakes and then took out the Group 1 T J Smith at Eagle Farm. One barrier trial later, he won the Sandown Guineas for the last win of his career.
The 2013 winner was Paximadia.
He was not spectacular, but he proved the value of choosing the right spots by earning over $500,000 form just eight jumps, four of which provided wins. The Sandown Guineas was the last race of his career. He won the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes in his previous race, a Listed race at Flemington and a minor race at Warwick Farm. He seemed to be in the wrong races at times, because he was matched against a superior Zoustar.
The year of 2014 supplies Petrology.
He made 66 starts, so he is a PGR Hall of Fame horse. He only won six times and placed 13 times, but he showed up to race, which is a primary criterion for us.
His Sandown Guineas victory was his first Group win and it was by a comfortable 2-1/4 lengths from Stratum Star. It was also his last Group win.
Quite the opposite of Petrology, 2015 winner Mahuta made only 16 jumps, but he parlayed that into over $1.7 million from six wins and three placings.
His first Group win was in the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes at Flemington, with the Sandown Guineas immediately following. He then won the Magic Million 3YO Guineas from Single Gaze at Gold Coast. Next came a win in the Group 2 Autumn Stakes at Caulfield.
Mahuta never won subsequently, with eight jumps producing two thirds, one of them being to Black Heart Bart in the 2016 Group 1 Memsie Stakes.
The 2018 winner, Ringerdingding, has the distinction, albeit not a rare distinction, of having been beaten by his stablemate Winx in the 2019 Group 1 George Ryder Stakes, when Chris Waller threw him to the lions to get the field up to eight.
Pretty Brazen, winner from 2019, beat Arcadia Queen to win the Group 2 Let’s Elope Stakes in 2020.
The Sandown Guineas is a Group 2 race that has supplied some good winners, including a couple that went on to win the Cox Plate, and in the rare case of Light Fingers, the Melbourne Cup.
As a three-year-old race, many of the past winners acquitted themselves nicely in the years following, while some that were good enough to win the Sandown Guineas were unable to advance beyond Group 2 and in some instances, winning the race was the peak of their careers.
|Year||Sandown Guineas Winners|
|1995||Peep On The Sly|
|1978||Just A Steal|
|1972||Carnation For Me|