Outside of the Melbourne Cup, there are not many prestigious Australian Thoroughbred races held on days other than Saturday.
For now, at least, the Group 1 Thousand Guineas is a Wednesday race run at Caulfield Racecourse for three-year-old fillies over 1600 metres under set weight conditions.
It is part of Caulfield’s spring racing carnival that runs from early October with the running of the Caulfield Guineas and other top races, ending a week later with the Caulfield Cup. After the Caulfield Cup, Caulfield Racecourse does not offer major Group racing until the end of November.
The race offers $1 million in prizemoney as of 2020.
It was won in 2020 by Odeum. She has not won since in six tries, but she is already near $1 million in earnings, aided immensely by the $610,000 prize for winning the Thousand Guineas.
Watch this nice mare win the 2020 Thousand Guineas here:
History of the Thousand Guineas
The Thousand Guineas was first run in 1946.
The Melbourne Racing Club has had no issues with moving the Thousand Guineas around on the racing calendar. It was run on the same day as the Caulfield Cup up until 1987. From 1988 through 2013, the race was held on the second (Wednesday) of the three-day carnival. The year of 2014 saw it back on the first day.
It is on Wednesday, 13 October for 2021, the middle day of Caulfield’s spring carnival.
The Thousand Guineas seems to be one of those races that has achieved sacrosanct status in that the MRC has not monkeyed about with the name. Some sponsors have added their name, Schweppes at the current moment, but so far, they have not tried anything cute like Fizzy Water Guineas or Gin and Schweppes Tonic Water Guineas.
We sometimes poke fun at the MRC for some of its race names, but we will mention that there was a Brazilian horse name Thousand Guineas foaled in 1985 with ties to a couple of British sires that have figured prominently in Australian Thoroughbred breeding. Those two were Hyperion and Gainsborough.
Much the same can be said of the race distance.
It was considered a mile up until 1972, when metrification declared that henceforth, the race would be 1600 metres. A mile is just over nine metres longer than 1600 metres – about one and a half strides for a Thoroughbred at full gallop.
Likewise the grade. It debuted as a Principal race and was immediately designated Group 1 when that classification system came along for the 1979 edition of the race.
Venue for the Thousand Guineas
The race has always been run at Caulfield Racecourse and since it started the year after World War II ended, it was not necessary to shift the race to Flemington, as was the case with some of the races that had been established pre-war.
The MRC even managed to get the race in at Caulfield in 1995, when they had a major redo of the facility and they were ready when 1996 rolled around.
There has been racing at Caulfield since 1859 and the biggest race held there, without doubt, is the Group 1 Caulfield Cup that jumped for the first time in 1879.
Further details about Caulfield Racecourse can be viewed here:
Racing History of the Thousand Guineas
The past winners of the Thousand Guineas had to be good in order to win one of the top three-year-old filly races of the year, but the list of the winners only shows a few truly remarkable horses.
It is tempting to mention that it often seems as though fillies aged three years have not reached their prime at that age.
That would account for the lack of top horses in the list of winners of the Thousand Guineas. Those fillies that are good as juveniles and three-year-olds often flatten as older horses, while the greats are just coming into their own as four and five-year-olds.
Our evidence is scant, but our example is undeniable.
That example is Winx. The only losses of her career were as a three-year-old.
All right, then. Here is what we could find regarding the fillies that have won the Thousand Guineas.
The first winner of the race in 1946 was a filly named Sweet Chime.
Her lines were sprinkled with some great names, including Blenheim, Dark Ronald and Comedy King. There was even a bit of Carbine in her.
She was apparently a pretty good racer. In addition to the Thousand Guineas, her other major wins were the 1945 AJC Gimcrack Stakes, the VRC Oaks, VRC Wakeful Stakes and AJC Adrian Knox Stakes.
Nizam’s win in 1947, like Sweet Chime’s, was paired with a VRC Oaks victory.
Siren Song won in 1948 and her other big win was the Edward Manifold Stakes.
Chiquita won in 1949. She won many more times, including many of the races won by her predecessors. She had other major wins too, such as the J. F. Feehan Stakes, the C. M. Lloyd Stakes and the Craiglee Stakes.
What stands out about Chiquita’s record is that in 1950, as a four-year-old, she almost won the Melbourne Cup, running second to Comic Court.
Next, we have 1950 Thousand Guineas winner True Course. In 27 starts, she had 12 wins and nine placings. Six unplaced results from 27 jumps is indication of a capable galloper.
Her record supports this opinion. She won the AJC Champagne Stakes, the AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes, the VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes and other races.
Trunnion won in 1952 and shared lines with several of the earlier winners. Her grandsire was the legendary Heroic, Australian Racing Hall of Fame horse and sire of Ajax and other top winners.
The winner in 1958 was named But Beautiful. She was a top galloper as a three-year-old, good enough to be named the Champion Three Year Old Filly that year. She made 25 starts with nothing worse than third place, which put us in mind of Black Caviar that also made 25 starts with slightly better results. But Beautiful’s other top victories were the Blamey Stakes, Mimosa Stakes and Sandown Guineas.
Our first truly significant winner came along in 1960 in the form of Wenona Girl.
Our goodness! She won a lot of races! She made 68 starts, which instantly qualifies her for the fictional Pro Group Racing Hall of Fame, where we appreciate the horses that race often and long. She won 27 of those races and placed in 26, yet racing in that era was not nearly as lucrative as it is now. Wenona Girl earned $70,000.
Yet, that $70,000 was the record for an Australian Thoroughbred when she retired. She is, of course, an inductee into the actual Australian Racing Hall of Fame. Nineteen of her wins were in races that would be viewed as major and 15 of those wins were in races that would become Group 1 quality. We cannot list them all here, but we will mention that she won the Rawson Stakes twice, in 1961 and again in 1964. She won the Lightning Stakes in 1963 and 1964.
The one and only dead heat in the Thousand Guineas came in 1963, when the race win was shared by Heirloom and Anna Rose. Neither seems to have made much of an impact.
Tango Miss came along to win the race in 1970 and while we don’t know a lot about her, we did learn that she won the William Reid Stakes and the SAJC Goodwood Handicap.
Another good galloper appeared in 1972 when Toltrice won the Thousand Guineas. She won 14 times from 31 jumps, winning top races such as the Wakeful Stakes Phar Lap Stakes, SAJC Spring Stakes and Alister Clarke Stakes.
Toy Show was the 1975 winner.
Other big wins for Toy Show were the AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes and the STC Golden Slipper Stakes. She had other wins in races that would be Group 1 in a few years, including the William Reid Stakes and the VRC Newmarket Handicap.
Another good winner from 1986 was Magic Flute.
Other major wins by her include the 1987 Doncaster Handicap and the Group 2 1987 Queensland Guineas.
We find Tristanagh winning the Thousand Guineas in 1989.
She was a top filly as a three-year-old and her other Group 1 win was the VRC Oaks. She was also a big winner as a two-year-old, winning seven times.
Skipping ahead to 1992, we find Azzurro winning the race.
Azzurro brought a lot of northern hemisphere lines into Australia. Like many other good Australian horses, Azzurro had Canada’s Northern Dancer and Nearctic, Italy’s Nearco and Sire Ivor of the U.S.
Northwood Plume took the race in 1994.
She won two other times at Group 1 level – The Crown Oaks in 1994 and the Australia Stakes in 1995. She made 19 starts and won half of them, along with three placings.
When we saw the name of the 1995 winner, we had to take a look.
She was named Shame, part of a phrase we often use when our selection jumps second-favourite and finishes stone motherless, as in cryin’ shame.
Shame had nothing about which to be ashamed, though. While she was not a big winner, the races she did win, six of them, combined with 11 placings were enough to earn her nearly $900,000.
After her win in the Thousand Guineas, Shame would win again when she took out the Group 2 Surround Stakes and the Group 2 Queen Of The Turf Stakes. She had some Group 1 misfortune in the Toorak Handicap, running second to Poetic King. In other Group 1 races, she kept matching up against Mouawad, losing to that horse in the Futurity Stakes and the George Ryder Stakes.
We will skip ahead now to 2004, because after Wenona Girl, the next important horse to win the Thousand Guineas was Alinghi.
She was so good that she earned over $4 million from 18 jumps for 11 wins and five placings. Alinghi won her first three starts, all at Caulfield. Those wins were the Listed Hardy Amies Stakes, the Group 3 Blue Diamond Prelude and the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes. After a barrier trial, she won the Group 2 Reisling Stakes at Rosehill and was a close third to winner Dance Hero in the 2004 Golden Slipper Stakes.
Alinghi’s last two wins came in her last three races, where she won the Group 1 Sangster Stakes and the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap at Flemington.
The wait for another great champion to win the Thousand Guineas was a short one, because 2006 supplies us with Miss Finland.
With Redoute’s Choice for a sire, it would seem that she brought naturally high expectations to the track and she delivered.
Like Alinghi, Miss Finland did not do a lot of racing – 26 jumps, but she turned those into 11 wins and six placings, winning over $4.6 million. She won the Golden Slipper Stakes that same year, along with the Crown Oaks. In 1995, she won the Group 1 Australia Stakes.
Her racing would earn her awards for the Australia Champion Two Year Old in 2006 and the Australian Champion Three Year Old in 2007.
In 2011, Atlantic Jewel was the winner.
She made only 11 jumps, but she won 10 of those and was second by a nose to It’s A Dundeel in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes. She won four Group 1 races all told, and probably would have had two more but for her connections running her in the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes and the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes. She beat Rain Affair to win the Group 1 All-Aged Stakes at Randwick.
The last significant winner was from 2019.
She was Flit, and she raced 21 times for four wins and five placings.
Now retired, no doubt to serve a higher calling, she won over $1.6 million. Her final win was the 2020 Silver Eagle, where she jumped for $10 and beat the $2.50 favourite Alligator Blood.
The Thousand Guineas has a lot going for it. Racing fans seem to appreciate three-year-old gender-restricted races and in the case of this race, it is not hard to see why.
While the true greats on the winners list are limited to Wenona Girl, Alinghi and Miss Finland, none of the winners we examined fit into the category of one-hit wonders.
We are not convinced that the MRC had the race on the right day, but there are a lot of good mid-week races and the MRC has even been known to race on Tuesday in November.
|Year||Thousand Guineas Winners|
|2015||Stay With Me|
|2000||All Time High|
|1997||Lady Of The Pines|
|1971||What's The Verdict|
|1969||Wood Court Inn|