The Group 2 Alister Clark Stakes at Moonee Valley Racecourse is a 2040-metre race run under set weight conditions by three-year-old horses during the month of March.
Prizemoney for the race, as of 2023, is $750,000.
Alister Clark Stakes Race Details
Racecourse: Moonee Valley
Race Distance: 2040m
Prize Money: $750,000
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When Is The Alister Clark Stakes: 23/3/24
What Time Is The Alister Clark Stakes: TBA
Where Is The Alister Clark Stakes: Moonee Valley Racecourse
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More Details About The Alister Clark Stakes
The New Zealand gelding Prix De Turn was the winner in 2022 and he beat 10 competitors to win by a comfortable 1.25 lengths to collect $450,000 for the win.
Currently four years of age, Prix De Turn has made 11 jumps for two wins and one placing, so trainer Matthew Brown cannot be accused of running the legs off this one, at least. The rest of the racing by Prix De Turn has netted about $125,000, proving that what you win and where you win matters.
The winner in 2023 was Bank Maur.
Currently three years of age, Bank Maur has made 10 jumps for three wins and two placings. He has jumped once more since winning the Alister Clark Stakes in March of 2023, producing a 13th place in the Group 1 Australia Cup.
The race used to be run alongside the Group 1 William Reid Stakes, but it was moved to a week earlier in the month for 2023. It is now the feature race at a meeting that includes two Listed grade races and the Group 3 Typhoon Tracy Stakes.
The trip is exactly the same as the Cox Plate, although the Cox Plate is run under weight-for-age conditions rather than set weights.
Colts and geldings in the Alister Clark Stakes carry 57 kg., while the fillies are given 55 kg.
History of the Alister Clark Stakes
Alister Clark was a founding member and chairman of the Moonee Valley Racing Club. He was also interested in the use of horses for hunting as the master of the Oaklands Hunt Club in the opening years of the 20th century. He was also noteworthy for his rose breeding and was considered the authority on the topic in Australia.
The race has undergone many changes since it first jumped in 1939. Everything conceivable, from the race grade, to the distance, to the running conditions, to the place on the racing calendar has been modified from time to time.
This is not uncommon by any stretch, especially in Victoria.
The race was 1600 metres when it started. In 1948, it was stretched to 2000 metres, where it stayed until 1973, when it reverted to 1600 metres. That is provided anyone will grant us the leeway to use metres for times before the adoption of the metric system.
The race was made 2040 metres in 1987 before dropping back to 2000 metres for 1995 when the race was shifted to Flemington while Moonee Valley was being renovated.
It was abbreviated again in 1998, this time to 1600 metres.
The Queensland-like 1509 metres was used for the 2001 jump, followed by 1600 metres from 2002 through 2010.
The current trip of 2040 metres has been in effect since 2011.
The race grade was Principal prior to the installation of the Group grading system, becoming and remaining Group 2 since 1979.
The running conditions for the race have changed; in addition, there was a time when the Alister Clark Stakes ran under weight-for-age conditions.
Venue for the Alister Clark Stakes
Moonee Valley Racecourse is in the Melbourne suburb of Moonee Ponds, not far from the CBD and close by Flemington Racecourse, both of which are just north of the city centre.
The course first opened in 1883 and while it does not get the attention received by Flemington and Caulfield, it still manages to attract good flats racers and a Group 2 race worth $750,000, Group 1 money, is bound to attract good three-year-olds of all genders.
The big event held at Moonee Valley, or The Valley as seems to have become the moniker du jour, is the W. S. Cox Plate, the race that is considered the weight-for-age championship of Australia.
The course is tight by metro standards – just over 1800 metres in circumference. It is best described as an oval with straight sections that has been dissected in the turns in order to insert short sections of straight track. Each of the four turns is a little different from the rest, so depending on the length of the race, horses may have to run just two, three, or all four turns.
For the 1600-metre races held at The Valley, the barriers are about midway down the south straight, about 200 metres from the finish line. The racers navigate three turns and hit the home straight with the stands and the finish line near the end of the straight on the west side of the course.
There is night racing at Moonee Valley; something we think should be more prevalent than it is.
Racing History of the Alister Clark Stakes
A race of this longevity, combined with good prizemoney, has supplied some true notables as winners, so we will be focusing on those, along with any others we find that might be of interest.
The winner of the first race in 1939 is a word that is seldom used to describe us – Amiable. We found nine horses by that name, seven fillies and two colts. Three of those were U.S. horses, so we could rule them out. Two were from Great Britain and we can rule them out for being horses of the 19th century. The two Aussies with the name Amiable were from the 19th century. There was a Kiwi horse foaled in 1996 that was obviously not the one.
We were left with a New Zealand Amiable, a filly that dropped in 1934.
This leads us to suspect that there was a time when the Alister Clark Stakes was not age restricted, as our Amiable would have been aged five or six years at the time of her win.
Amiable was pretty good, but the win we found for her in 1939 was the William Reid Stakes. She was behind High Caste on a couple of occasions, in the Epsom Handicap and the Canterbury Stakes, races where High Caste was second with Amiable third.
In short, this Amiable would appear to be the only one that fits the correct time period, but we are not sure we have the right Amiable.
We often encounter discrepancies such as these when we look at older races that are not of the elite type.
The 1940 winner was Pure Gold, notable mostly for his sire, Heroic.
He won the 1939 Moonee Valley Stakes and after racing, he was a modest sire with 10 foals, all fillies, in his progeny record.
The winner in 1941 was Zonda. The Australian Zonda foaled in 1936, which would put her at four or five when she won, which is our second piece of evidence that there was a time when the Alister Clark Stakes was not a three-year-old race. She won some better races, including the VATC Debutante Stakes, the 1941 Oakleigh Plate and the 1943 Futurity Stakes - horse racing tips.
The first truly notable winner came along in 1942, when the race was run in divisions. Tranquil Star won one division, with the other going to Prince Ronald.
Tranquil Star was a mare born in 1937 that made 111 jumps. Bravo, Tranquil Star, bravo. She won 23 races and placed in 32. She is a member of the Australian Racing Hall of Fame, thanks to major wins including the 1942 Caulfield Cup and the 1942 and 1944 Cox Plate. Three wins in the LKS MacKinnon Stakes burnished her credentials.
She beat High Caste AND Beau Vite to win the 1941 Chipping Norton Stakes.
Believe it or not, after 111 jumps, Tranquil Star still managed to drop three fillies and one colt, thanks to Comic Court, Dhoti and Helios, although none of those offspring came close to either parent in terms of racing.
The winner of the other division, Prince Ronald, was a descendant of Dark Ronald and Bay Ronald on the side of his dam Ronaldine. The names of Dark Ronald and Bay Ronald are often present in the pedigrees of some of the better Australian racers.
Another good winner was 1950’s Comic Court.
He was foaled in 1945, so we are ready to avow with confidence that the Alister Clark Stakes was not always an age-restricted race and leave it at that.
Comic Court won 28 times from 54 jumps, including many races that would become Group 1 grade in the late 70s, but all we need to say in connection with this racing hall of fame horse is that he won the Melbourne Cup in 1950 in record time.
Like Prince Ronald, Comic Court also had lines to Dark Ronald and Bay Ronald.
On the day Comic Court won the Melbourne Cup, his strapper was none other than Bart Cummings, whose father J. Cummings was Comic Court’s trainer.
Leaving the early era of the Alister Clark Stakes, we report that the race was not held in 1967.
A notable winner from 1974, Toltrice was a daughter of Matrice that won 14 of her 31 jumps. She won the VRC Oaks, the VATC 1,000 Guineas and many other top races.
Toltrice as a breeder was served by the top class of stallions from the era, including Danehill, Sir Tristam and Vain, but her best was Almurtajaz a 1985 colt by Danzatore that won over $400,000.
The race was abandoned in 1975 and 1978. In between, there was a dead heat in 1977 between Family Of Man and Surround.
Family Of Man won the Cox Plate in 1977 as his best win from 78 jumps for 21 wins and 29 placings. All that racing, winning and placing in the mid and late 70s netted him $645,000, an amount that if we adjusted to modern times, would be millions of dollars.
He was a prolific sire and his top offspring each earned anywhere from $338,000 (Sonic Express) to $116,000 (Man Of Vann).
Surround, the other runner involved in the Alister Clark Stakes dead heat, was a New Zealand mare that won 17 of her 28 jumps with four placings. She was Champion Australian Three Year Old in 1976, with three Group 1 wins (even though races were not to be classified as Group grade for another two to three years) in the Cox Plate, the Caulfield Guineas and the VRC Oaks. The following year, she won the Group 1 AJC Oaks.
After racing, she supplied five foals by Sir Tristam, along with several others.
The 1987 winner was the legendary Vo Rogue.
A gelding of modest lines, Vo Rogue raced against the top class Thoroughbreds of the time. He beat Better Loosen Up AND Super Impose to win the Group 1 Australian Cup in 1990. He had beaten Super Impose in the same race in 1989 and also the C. F. Orr Stakes.
The form line for this champion gelding was 83 jumps for 26 wins and 23 placings – over $3.1 million in prizemoney.
Family Of Man won the race again in 1979, and since you are only three once, we have proof positive that the Alister Clark Stakes was not always a three-year-olds’ race.
The 1990 winner was Zabeel.
He was one of the best Kiwi racers and we almost develop a sense of awe or nausea at the number of times we see his name in the pedigrees of some impressive racers.
He made just 19 jumps for seven wins and five placings and $1.1 million in winnings. He was never meant for the track it would seem that this New Zealand Hall of Fame horse was far better breeder than racer.
He was sire to Octagonal, Might And Power, Savabeel and many other capable racers.
We have to jump ahead to 1992, the year the race was won by Naturalism. This was the first year we can be certain the Alister Clark Stakes was a three-year-olds’ race.
He was a New Zealand born colt by a U.S. sire. His 34 jumps for 12 wins and 12 placings netted over $3.2 million. He beat Veandercross in two Group 1 races.
His best offspring was Trips, a 1995 colt that won 14 time to amass above $1.25 million.
Here is a little fact we do not think we have encountered in the past 12 years of examining Australian racing history.
The 1998 winner was Zonda, the same name as the 1941 winner.
He was by Zabeel and won over $1 million NZD from just 16 jumps for seven wins and six placings. He won Group 1 races in New Zealand. He also won the Group 1 Australian Guineas in 1998.
We conclude that as Zondas go, the 1998 Zonda was the better of the two.
The second Zonda was a gelding, so the 1941 Zonda, a mare, was the better breeder.
We will devote the rest of our space to the modern era of the Alister Clark Stakes, beginning with the 2020 winner Noncomformist.
Noncomformist is currently aged six years and has made 27 jumps for six wins and 8 placings for just under $2 million in earnings.
The Alister Clark Stakes was his first Group win, where he won by over three lengths from of small field of six. He won the Group 2 Blamey Stakes in March of 2023 and is listed as active, with his last jump producing a fourth in the Listed Mornington Cup, where he jumped favourite but failed to support the punters who supported him.
The Alister Clark Stakes has been modified in almost every regard, save perhaps the name.
It has supplied great winners, with a Melbourne Cup or two, along with a Caulfield Cup and some Cox Plates, so it would be fair to consider the Alister Clark Stakes as an elite race from the perspective of having the gravitas to attract the better class of gallopers.
Alister Clark Stakes Past Winners
|2022||Prix De Tum|
|1981||My Brown Jug|
|1980||Bit Of A Skite|
|1979||Family Of Man|
|1977||Family Of Man|