The Cameron Handicap is a Group 3 race for any and all comers. It is held at Broadmeadow Racecourse in Newcastle, NSW.
The race is 1500 metres in length and the running conditions are open handicap.
Cameron Handicap Race Details
Race Distance: 1500m
Prize Money: $200,000
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When Is The Cameron Handicap: 23/9/2024
What Time Is The Cameron Handicap: TBA
Where Is The Cameron Handicap: Newcastle Racecourse
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More Details About The Cameron Handicap
The race is held on Friday afternoon during the middle of September during Newcastle’s significant meeting of the year, which also jumps the Newcastle Gold Cup and the Tibbie Stakes, both Group 3 races.
Prizemoney for the 2021 edition of the race is $200,000. Ashman outwitted the wise guys who made Rock the favourite, jumping for $18 and beating seven shorter horses in the process of claiming the $83,000 top Cameron Handicap prize. Rock had won the race the year before, so Ashman denied Rock his third consecutive Cameron Handicap win.
The 2020 win by Rock might have been a different outcome had Kolding not been scratched by trainer Chris Waller and Kolding’s connections.
History of the Cameron Handicap
One thing that makes the Cameron Handicap notable is that the winner receives a ballot exemption to the Group 1 Epsom Handicap.
It is hard to put a precise value on that aspect of the win in the Cameron Handicap.
The only horse that won the Group 1 Epsom Handicap after winning the Cameron Handicap was Excellerator in 2002.
Denali won the Cameron in 1949 and the Epsom in 1950, which is a near miss. Kolding, scratched from the 2019 Cameron Handicap, won the Epsom Handicap that year. Kolding never needed a ballot exemption. Rock was in that race, finishing 19th.
As we examine some of the winners of the Cameron Handicap, we will be looking at how horses that jumped in the Epsom after winning the Cameron fared, but we already know that only Excellerator cashed the exemption.
The raced is named in honour of James George Cameron for his involvement and dedication to Thoroughbred racing in Newcastle.
The Cameron Stakes was a Listed grade race from its 1935 inception through 2004, rising to Group 3 grade for 2005 and retaining that grade ever since.
The race trip for the Cameron Stakes has been modified over the years. It began as a 1300-metre race and stayed there through 2008. For 2009 and 2010, it was stretched to 1400 metres. It was staged over 1500 metres for 2011 – 2015, reduced to 1350 metres for 2016 and 1500 metres from 2017 onwards.
Unlike many of the metro races in Sydney and Victoria, the Cameron Handicap has never been run anywhere except Broadmeadow Racecourse in the city of Newcastle, because there is not anywhere else in Newcastle to run the race.
The history of the race was almost exceedingly brief. It was not held in 1936 after being run for the first time in 1935. It did manage to return in 1937 and has been run continuously save for the equine influenza outbreak in NSW in 2007 that forced many race cancellations.
Venue for the Cameron Handicap
Broadmeadow racecourse in Newcastle is a standard oval with equal turns on both ends. There are a couple of straights, though, so the Geometry nerds might object to us using the word oval, but our geometric vocabulary is massively limited.
Many people simply refer to the track as Newcastle Racecourse.
The Newcastle Jockey Club oversees races held at the track, where there is racing on Saturdays for half the year. There is also a race there called the Newmarket Handicap, not to be confused with THE Newmarket Handicap at Flemington.
Fifteen hundred-metre races held in Newcastle begin at the head of the north straight, race from west to east, hit the turn and finish at the end of the south straight, running from east to west.
This track appeals to us for the reason that just beyond the turf, on the north and east sides of the track, residences line the route the horses follow and we can think of nothing better to do than to sit on the balcony and sip a few coldies whilst we watch free racing.
Racing History of the Cameron Handicap
Even with a ballot exemption for a major race such as the Epsom Handicap, it is unrealistic to expect a list of champions, or any of the best types, as winners of the Cameron Handicap.
Even with no age or gender restrictions, the horses racing in the Cameron Handicap, or any Newcastle race, for that matter, were horses trying to develop into gallopers qualified for the big metro tracks in the south, not the other way around.
For multiple winners, we have three-time winner Homeleigh Dick from 1946, 1947 and 1949. We could not find anything about this horse and we almost suggest that it could be a prank, given the disputed history of the origins and running of the Cameron Handicap.
What we do know is that if we were Victorian race callers from that era, we would be very anxious if Homeleigh Dick were to win the Group 3 W. W. Cockram Stakes at Caulfield on Memsie Stakes Day, although the idea of announcing that “Homeleigh Dick win the Cockram Stakes!” might appeal to some.
A dual winner appeared in 1969 and 1970 when Without Reproach was successful in two Cameron Handicaps. She was a modest racer credited with 14 wins and the two successive Cameron wins appear to be her zenith as a racer. We do not know that she tried the Cameron again in 1971, but if not, who could blame her?
The final dual winner was Rock in 2019 and 2020.
As for the rest, it is doubtful we will find any great gallopers, but we will check for Group 1 wins and productive progeny as we move through the list.
The winner of the first Cameron Handicap was Dermid. If pedigree is traced back far enough, Dermid carried blood from Carbine. The other notable we discovered was Wallace, an Australian sire whose DNA figures in many great racers.
Here is where the racing history of the Cameron Stakes is a bit obscure.
After the race was skipped in 1936, it was dead-heated in 1937 by Bundar and Milantheon. In the pedigree database, Bundar is credited with winning the Cameron in 1933, which our sources would remark that it was two years prior to the first jump of the race. It could be a data entry error, because the database gives the year of 1931 for Bundar’s foaling. It is feasible that he won as a two-year-old, just not all that likely.
Milantheon, on the other hand, would have been eight years of age when he dead-heated with Bundar. A case of the old Sunrise/Sunset syndrome.
We jumped over some winners, finding nothing of note, until we come to 1941, which produced another dead heat, this one between Return Ticket and Martheus.
We found six horses carrying the name of Return Ticket, but none that foaled around the right time. We found Martheus and he dropped in 1937, which would be appropriate, but if he did anything noteworthy as a racer, it did not survive him.
Young Valais was the 1943 winner. His is a name we see often in the lines of numerous successful progeny, so his influence on racing extends far beyond any racing accomplishments.
We have been through the list of Cameron Handicap winners and have arrived at 1946 and 1947, the years Homeleigh Dick won the first two of his three total. We have already said enough about him, possibly too much, but we must say he was not an ugly horse. His name is taken from the NSW rural location of Homeleigh in the Kyogle region.
For 1948, Melgoda put a halt to Homeleigh Dick’s streak. Melgoda’s lines include Comedy King and the Irish Ronalds, Dark and Bay. All three of those have had a significant impact on Australian Thoroughbred breeding.
Bankbrook won the Cameron Handicap in 1952. He won some other good races, in addition, including the then Principal grade Theo Marks Quality Handicap in 1951, a second race, along with the Cameron, that provides an Epsom Handicap ballot exemption to the winner. He was making a little bit of money from racing, so if he had been ours, we would have changed his name to Bankbook.
We finally have a notable winner in San Domenico from 1953.
San Domenico was good enough that the Cameron Handicap was not considered one of his major wins. He made 79 jumps, enough to qualify for the imaginary Pro Group Racing Hall of Fame, but he also won races that would be declared Group 1 in the future years. Those races were the Oakleigh Plate, George Main Stakes, Warwick Stakes (twice), Canterbury Stakes (twice), Futurity Stakes and All Aged Stakes.
Martello Towers, the Cameron Handicap winner in 1961, had a better career than any of the previous winners. By an exponential degree, we might add. His big win was the 1959 Australian Derby, along with the Canterbury and Rosehill Guineas. After winning the Cameron Handicap in 1961, Martello Towers also took the George Main Stakes.
Martello Towers almost did not live to produce progeny. He nearly drowned due to a flooded Hawkesbury River in Windsor, NSW.
He did swim, rather than sink, though, and he was a prodigious sire, although we did not see any that were of his quality.
Pardon Me won in 1964. He was by the notable French sire Wilkes. His bets win that we could determine was the Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield the same year.
The dual winner of the 1969 and 1970 Cameron Handicap was Without Reproach. Another win by her was the Marshfield Flying Handicap.
A legitimate champion would come along to win the race in 1977.
It was Luskin Star and our first impression was to wonder why Luskin Star was racing in Newcastle. This is an Australian Racing Hall of Fame inductee that raced just 17 times for 13 wins and 3 placings. He was another of the descendants of Ireland’s Star Kingdom that has DNA in practically every significant line of good Australian Thoroughbreds.
He was in the Cameron Handicap because it was where he got his start. He once won a division of the Breeders’ Plate in 1976, winning the 1000-metre sprint race by 12 lengths. He had major wins in the Silver Slipper Stakes and the Golden Slipper Stakes, the AJC Sires’ Produce, the Caulfield Guineas and several others.
Entrusted with carrying the lines of some great ancestors, including grandsire Star Kingdom and the likes of Hyperion and Gainsborough, Luskin Star saw heavy service while standing stud. His best was from 1988 in $1.7 million winner Bold Promise. Bold Promise was the dam of Merlene and Miss Pennymoney; Miss Pennymoney earned about $980,000, while Merlene won almost $1.6 million.
We jumped ahead and made it all the way to 2014 before we found any gallopers anywhere near to Luskin Star.
That horse was the 2014 winner Hooked.
Hooked out-earned Luskin Star by a considerable degree without coming truly close to having the ability of Luskin Star. His best win was the 2014 Group 2 Schweppes Crystal Mile, which came after running third in the Epsom Handicap after the win in the Cameron. He won the Group 2 Tramway Stakes at Randwick in 2015.
In 2015, Forget won the Cameron as the last win in a long career. He was forgettable, but he ran third to Redzel in the July Sprint in 2016, although it was admittedly a distant third.
The Cameron Handicap winners subsequent to Forget in 2015 were mainly the sorts that inspire amnesia.
Tipperary was the 2018 winner that beat Red Excitement for the win, but he squandered his start in the Epsom Handicap by running 16th of 20, far back from the winner Hartnell.
Now we are back to Rock, the dual winner from 2019 and 2020. His run following the ballot exemption he received for winning found him running fifth in the Epsom Handicap of 2019. Following the Cameron win in 2020, he ran seventh in his second attempt in the Epsom Handicap.
The Cameron Handicap is actually a decent race that suffers mainly from being run at Newcastle.
It is doubtful that the Newcastle Jockey Club would be supportive of moving the race to Sydney, but stranger things have happened in the world of Australian Thoroughbred racing.
The race has delivered mostly handy types, with the possible exceptions of Luskin Star and Hooked.
There was just the one winner that recorded three wins and just two with two wins.
It is nice, though, that a track such as Broadmeadow gets to stage Group races, when many would view it as a provincial venue.
Hooked made 37 jumps for six wins and four placings
Newcastle Cameron Handicap Past Winners
|2006||Court's In Session|
|1997||Crows Before Dawn|
|1986||Sound Of Bells|