There are times when it seems as though Group 2 races are the redheaded stepchild of Thoroughbred racing, but it would be hard to make that case for the Feehan Stakes.
Feehan Stakes Race Details
Date: 14th September 2024
Racecourse: Moonee Valley
Race Distance: 1600m
Conditions: Good 4
Prize Money: $500,000
How To Bet On The Feehan Stakes
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When Is The Feehan Stakes: 14th September 2024
What Time Is The Feehan Stakes: 4.50pm
Where Is The Feehan Stakes: Moonee Valley Racecourse
How To Live Stream The Feehan Stakes
To live stream the Feehan Stakes, TAB Account Holders can watch the race live.
More Details About The Feehan Stakes
The other important race at the meeting is the Group 2 Ian McEwan Stakes.
The most recent winner of the race was Superstorm in 2021. A powerful and fast gelding by Sebring from Stormy Nova, Superstorm was awarded the first place prize of $300,000 plus a $1500 bonus.
Of some interest to us was that Superstorm did not use the ballot exemption for the Cox Plate and the Caulfield Cup, but Superstorm has never won beyond 1600 metres, so the connections apparently did not have faith in Superstorm’s ability to handle the 2040 and 2400-metre trips of those races. He did use the win in the Feehan Stakes as a launch to a four-race campaign that produced two third placings and a win in a Group 1 races.
The following link will supply a replay of Superstorm winning the 2021 Feehan Stakes.
History of the Feehan Stakes
The Feehan Stakes was first run in 1948.
The namesake of the race is John F. Feehan. He was the gentleman that owned the land on which Moonee Valley Racecourse is situated. The name was abandoned at various points; in fact, the first year it was run it was simply the Glenroy Stakes. Glenroy is still part of a race name for a race run in Western Australia.
The name was J. F. Feehan Stakes from 1940 through 1955. It became the J. F. Feehan Handicap from 1956 through 1969, resuming as the J.F. Feehan Stakes in 1970 up until 1983, when it was simply the Centennial Stakes.
Back to being called the J.F. Feehan Stakes in 1984, it remained so until 2005, when the race was renamed as the Dato’ Tan Chin Name Stakes, a name doomed due to its length.
It became the J.F. Feehan Stakes in 2019, but those two initials in front of the name take a long time to say, at least in the view of time-pressured Aussie racing punters, most of whom just call the race the Feehan Stakes.
The race was run as the Clamms Seafood Feehan Stakes in 2021. We just had to mention it, as Clamms is a fabulous name for a seafood company and running such a race on turf while calling it a stakes has us salivating over a luncheon of surf and turf.
The distance for the race has been steady throughout, except for the little difference between a mile and 1600 metres.
Likewise, the race grade has been steady, with the Feehan Stakes beginning as a principal race and rising immediately to Group 2 status in 1979, the year the system was put into use.
The race has always been run at Moonee Valley, except when it was run at Caulfield Racecourse in 1995. If memory serves, 1995 was the year Moonee Valley was being renovated.
The entire race meeting has been abandoned due to rain in 1960 and 1966.
Race Venue for the Feehan Stakes
Moonee Valley has always been the venue for the Feehan Stakes, except for the year 1995, when it was moved to Caulfield for one race.
The first meeting was held there in 1883 and it was eventually purchased by William Samuel Cox, the man whose name would become synonymous with the most exacting weight-for-age race in Australia, the W. S. Cox Plate.
The Cox Plate is without doubt the most famous of the races held at Moonee Valley. Other important races are the Group 1s A. J. Moir Stakes, Manikato Stakes and the William Reid Stakes.
Moonee Valley Racecourse also stages races from those other two racing codes.
For a 1600-metre race such as the Feehan Stakes, the barriers are set up on the south side of the course proper, so racers will run three turns before hitting the finish line on the east side of the course, where the grandstands are located.
Racing History of the Feehan Stakes
Once the race was well established, it was able to draw from some of the better types and it is hard to dispute that the exemption from balloting from the Cox Plate and the Caulfield Cup has a big influence on trainers and connections managing gallopers’ campaigns.
Here is a look at some of the notable winners, including those that have notched multiple Feehan Stakes wins.
A turf legend came along to win the race in 1954. We’ll get to him momentarily.
The first six winners of the race were not nearly as obscure as were the first six winners of some other races. Remember, the Feehan Stakes started as a Principal race. There were no years of building in order to get some of the better horses.
Inaugural winner Phoibos had an impressive pedigree, with Helios Hyperion and Gainsborough lined up behind as sire, grandsire and great grandsire. Phoibos won multiple major races in 1948, including the Caulfield Guineas. He stretched his trip to 2400 metres to win the C. B. Fisher Plate, but arguably, his best win was the 1949 All Aged Stakes.
Ellersie, from 1949, did not do nearly as well as Phoibos.
Chicquita was the winner in 1950. She was the first mare to win. She was a good one; as a winner of 16 races from 36 jumps, she won the Craiglee Stakes that same year. She ran second to Comic Court in the 1950 Melbourne Cup, where he set a record for the race. Chicquita was less than a length behind at the post.
1951 winner Iron Duke was not impressive.
The 1952 winner was the second mare to win the Feehan Stakes. Her name was Zezette, but she did not have a memorable racing record.
There was nothing particularly noteworthy to be discovered about the 1953 winner Quite Talk.
The next year was 1954 and the horse about which we teased earlier was Rising Fast. We have detailed Rising Fast elsewhere, but for our purposes here, we will mention that he won the Cox Plate, the Caulfield Cup and the Melbourne Cup in 1954. He is the only horse ever to win all three races in the same year.
Winfreux was a champion galloper that won the Feehan Stakes in 1965.
He was better than most, winning multiple major races. He was the one to back when the racing went to Queensland, with wins in the Doomben 10000 and the Doomben Cup. He placed second in the Cox Plate on two occasions.
The first multiple winner of the Feehan Stakes won three consecutive from 1968 – 1970.
That horse was Shorenegro.
Shorenegro is credited with nine wins, so three Feehan Stakes, but it is interesting to discover that the first two wins were when the race was called the Feehan Handicap and the third featured the race being called the Feehan Stakes.
The gallopers in the Feehan Stakes kept getting better and better, so we are skipping some winners to look at the winner from 1981 and 1982.
It was a gelding named Lawman.
Lawman was found winning nine times; the best win we found was the Doncaster Handicap, but he won the C. F. Orr Stakes when it was a Group 2 race, along with the-then Group 2 St. George Stakes. Lawman was second in the Cox Plate and the Australian Cup. Another try in the Cox Plate produced a third place run.
Strawberry Road won in 1983.
The Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year for 1983, Strawberry Road won the Cox Plate that same year. He then raced in Europe and the U.S. before entering stud with over $1.7 million in earnings. His best from the earnings perspective was Escena, a U.S. horse that won almost $3 million. The impressive thing about Strawberry Road as a sire was that almost every foal he produced went on to win millions in stakes.
Jumping ahead to 1987 reveals Rubiton as the winner of the Feehan Stakes. Rubiton earned over $1.3 million when winning over a million dollars racing was still a considerable challenge. He made only 16 jumps for 10 wins and 5 placings. They did not geld him when he ran unplaced the one time. He won the 1987 Cox Plate and he was as good, possibly better than, Strawberry Road when it came to stakes winning progeny. His best was Fields Of Omagh, a name that needs no expounding, but will be seen again, when we get to the 2002 Feehan Stakes winner.
The 1990 winner was Better Loosen Up.
Better Loosen Up never took to the turf when he was stiff. He won over $4.7 million and was the Australian Horse of the Year in 1991. He won the Cox Plate in 1990, with multiple major wins in 1989, 1990 and 1991.
In 1992, we find Naturalism as the winner. Like many other Feehan Stakes winners, Naturalism used the ballot exemption from the win to try the 1992 Cox Plate. He was involved in the famous Cox Plate crash that took out much of the field, but he survived. Winner of over $3.2 million, he was sire to 1995 foal Trips, a colt that won over $1.2 million.
Sunline was the winner in 2000.
She won the Cox Plate for the second time the year that she won the Feehan Stakes. She also had two wins in the Doncaster Handicap the All Aged Stakes, Coolmore Classic and the Waikato Sprint. As the winner of more than $11 million, she is arguably the best to come out of New Zealand, even if her lines were predominantly northern hemisphere.
Sunline did not enjoy much success as a breeder, but there is nothing unusual about that, but she was served by Zabeel for one colt that won almost nothing and another by her frequent suitor Rock Of Gibraltar that produced a minor stakes winner.
If it were desirable to talk about a significant era for a race, it would have to be 2000 – 2002 for the Feehan Stakes.
Following Sunline in 2001 was Northerly.
Northerly won over $9.3 million from 37 jumps for 19 wins and 9 placings. He won the Group 1 Australian Cup in 2001 and 2003, the Cox Plate in 2001 and 2002, the Group 1 Underwood Stakes in 2001/02 and the 2002 Caulfield Cup.
The end of the brief era we defined was filled by 2002 Feehan Stakes winner Fields Of Omagh.
This gelding by former Feehan Stakes winner Rubiton won almost $6.5 million. His career was etched in history courtesy of his 2003 and 2006 Cox Plate wins, and the second victory established a record for oldest galloper to win the Cox Plate.
Our next galloper in the list of Feehan Stakes winners was two-time winner from 2009 and 2010.
It was Whobegotyou.
Whobegotyou was a big earner, with over $3.1 million in prizemoney. He was a bargain for a Victorian gent who bought the horse for under $20,000. He was Australian Champion Three Year Old for the 2008/09 season. When he won his two Feehan Stakes, the race was going by the unwieldy name of the Dato Chin Nam Stakes.
Fiorente was the 2013 winner.
He was notable mainly for winning the 2013 Melbourne Cup and was the winner of six races with six placings from 20 jumps. That resume earned Fiorente more than $6.2 million. He is doing well as a sire, with several six-figure stakes earners and one that came close to a million dollars – a mare named Lunar Flare. Fiorente came within half a length of winning the 2013 Cox Plate, running third to winner Shamus Award with Happy Trails running second.
Our last multiple winner to date is The Cleaner, winner from 2014 and 2015. The Cleaner was only average by the standards set by some of the past Feehan Stakes winners. He earned over $1.3 million, but he needed 58 jumps to do it. He won 19 and placed in 16 races. Tried in the 2015 Cox Plate, The Cleaner was left to pick up the debris left in the wake of Winx.
Bonneval from 2017 was a good one, but she raced only 12 times, winning seven and running third in one race. She won three Group 1 races. She beat Hartnell and Gailo Chop in winning the 2017 Group 1 Underwood Stakes.
Magic Consol from 2018 and Homesman from 2019 were good horses.
Magic Consol made 63 jumps, so we like him. Homesman was the better, though, earning over $3.3 million from 31 jumps for 7 wins and 11 placings.
Our last notable winner to date of the Feehan Stakes was an old favourite of ours, Humidor. Now retired, Humidor won over $4.4 from 50 jumps for 9 wins and 14 placings. He beat Jameka to win the 2017 Group 1 Australian Cup. He beat two others we admire when he won the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes from Hartnell and Black Heart Bart.
The Feehan Stakes has benefitted from a desirable spot on the Victorian spring racing calendar. There were many winners that went on to greater heights. The key appeal of this race, even though the prizemoney is high for a Group 2 race, has to be the golden ticket the winner receives for a slot in the Cox Plate and the Caulfield Cup.
Feehan Stakes Past Winners
|2006||Lad Of The Manor|
|2005||Lad Of The Manor|
|2002||Fields Of Omagh|
|1990||Better Loosen Up|
|1988||Our Poetic Prince|