The Group 2 Adelaide Cup is a stayers’ race of 3200 metres run under open handicap conditions by horses of any gender aged three years and above at Morphettville Racecourse in Adelaide, South Australia during the Month of March.
Prizemoney for the race, as of 2023, is the decidedly un-round figure of $302,250.
Adelaide Cup Race Details
Race Distance: 3200m
Prize Money: $302,250
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When Is The Adelaide Cup: 11/3/24
What Time Is The Adelaide Cup: TBA
Where Is The Adelaide Cup: Morphettville Racecourse
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More Details About The Adelaide Cup
The winner’s share is $162,225 and that amount was paid to Rebel Racer when he won in 2023.
He is a 2016 son of the million dollar-plus and Group 1 Victoria Derby winner Rebel Raider, with lines to the likes of New Zealand’s Zabeel, Australia’s Zeditave and Ireland’s Sir Tristam. Dam Just Sybil has lines to Bletchingly and Biscay, with Ireland’s Star Kingdom one generation further back.
Rebel Racer is a six-year-old gelding that has made 32 jumps for 5 wins and 9 placings for just above $370,000 in prizemoney, so it might be said that he is not holding up his end of the pedigree.
There are not many true stayers’ races these days, but when you see the name of an Australian city followed by the word Cup, you can assume a 3200-metre race is involved.
Some of the winners of the race have won Cups from larger cities, by which we are referring to Melbourne, but we will look for Sydney Cup winners, as well as winners in anything 2000 metres and beyond, since those are now considered to be staying races.
The running conditions of the race lend themselves to multiple winners, which we will see when we get to the racing history of the race.
The South Australian Jockey Club oversees the race, which is currently run on the second Monday in March from 2006 forward, to coincide with public holiday that status that came along in 1973.
The Adelaide Cup is run at a meeting that offers four Listed grade races on the same day, as of early May 2023.
History of the Adelaide Cup
The first Adelaide Cup was run in 1864, the same year the Melbourne Cup jumped for the fourth time.
The organizers of the race in the early days dangled an incentive of 50 sovereigns in order to get owners and trainers from Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland to field gallopers.
We would think that the opportunity to get out of those places and spend some lovely time in Adelaide was reward enough, but that Thoroughbred set is distinctly business oriented.
The race grade was of course Principal when the race debuted in 1864. When the Group grading system came into use, the Adelaide Cup went straight to Group 1 grade, but was demoted in 2007 to Group 2. We are unclear as why the Australian Pattern Committee downgraded the race, but from where we sit today, we can say that the prizemoney of $302,250 is not Group 1 prizemoney.
The race trip was adjusted to 2600 metres in 1884 and remained there through 1940.
The race was not held in 1942 and 1943, with the reason given as a ban on racing during World War II, although the war started in 1939, with Adelaide Cups being run in 1940, 1941, 1944 and 1945, while the war was still very real.
The race has always jumped at Adelaide, although in the early years, the course was Thebarton Racecourse, at the site of present-day western suburb Mile End. The year of 1876 marks the first time the race was at the current location.
Following the collapse of the SAJC in 1883, the race was moved.
It was held that year at Victoria Park Racecourse, as it was again held there in 1980 while Morphettville was being renovated.
Another interruption saw the race moved to Victoria Park in 2000 when heavy rains in South Australia forced the postponement of the race until a later date.
Venue for the Adelaide Cup
As we mentioned earlier, the race predates the opening date of Morphettville Racecourse, which was 3 January of 1876.
These days, Morphettville is one of the crown jewels of Australian metro Thoroughbred racing.
It is home to four Group 1, 4 Group 2 and 9 Group 3 races. All the Group 1 races are held in April.
We would have to say that Morphettville is the best tactically designed course in most of the land, ah why equivocate, best tactically designed in all the land.
The predominant layout is a triangular oval, but an oval that has been modified so that there are three distinct straights and three turns that are unique from one another.
The Adelaide Cup is the only 3200-metre race at the track. Horses jump from barriers and go almost immediately into the tightest of the three turns. They proceed onto the home straight, passing the stands and into a long sweeping turn onto the back straight. The tightest turn on the course is run again to the home straight to the finish on the north side of the track.
Racing History of the Adelaide Cup
With such an old race as the Adelaide Cup, experience has proven that it is hard to find much history on horses from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Instead of focusing on early winners and moving on to modern ones, we will begin with recent years and work our way back, looking for multiple winners and true notables on the track and as breeders.
We will stray from that tactic for just a moment though, as we always believe that the first winner of any race is historically significant.
That first winner of the Adelaide Cup in 1964 was Falcon.
Without intending to, Falcon showed us the issues of writing about horses in the 1800 and 1900s. There was a gelding foaled in 1861 and a stallion from 1858, either of which would fit the time for an Adelaide Cup winner.
Neither Falcon appears to have been much though. The Falcon from 1861 was second to The Barb in the 1866 Melbourne Cup and was also the winner of the 1866 All-Aged Stakes at Randwick, but it appears as though it was the Falcon from 1858 that was winner of the 1864 Adelaide Cup.
Neither Falcon left a progeny record that we could locate, for obvious reasons for the gelding and obscure reasons for the stallion, mainly that records from the time were often scanty, even though it is hard to imagine that a stallion from the 1800s would not have been tasked with making more horses.
Moving back, we find the last winner of the race to win more than once.
It was Our Pompeii, winner in 1993 and 1994.
He was a New Zealand gelding of predominantly northern hemisphere lines. His two wins in the Adelaide Cup were when the race was Group 1 grade. He also won the Group 1 South Australian Derby. He won the Group 2 Sandown Cup in Victoria in 1994, beating the much better Doriemus.
Our Pompeii was the type we like for his 89 jumps. His form line of 7 wins and 15 placings earned him just above $1 million.
The notable Subzero won in 1992.
Like Our Pompeii, Subzero won the Group 1 SA Derby in his jump just prior to his win in the Adelaide Cup. His historical significance is that he won the 1992 Melbourne Cup from Veandercross. He finished third in the 1993 Sydney Cup, but after the win in the Melbourne Cup, Subzero never won again.
He made a gelding typical 48 jumps for 6 wins and 11 placings for just over $2 million in earnings, the bulk of which came from the Melbourne Cup win.
The next winner that caught our attention was the three-time Adelaide Cup winner from 1987 – 1989, Lord Reims.
We know his form line of 47 jumps for 13 wins and 7 placings and we learned that he won the 1987 Group 1 Caulfield Cup from multiple Group 1 winner Beau Zam.
The 1981 winner, Just A Dash, won the Melbourne Cup the same year, yet that win and all his other races, 61 jumps for 10 wins and 15 placings, netted him just $362,000. That number felt off, but we learned that in 1981, the prizemoney pool for the Melbourne Cup was $310,000.
The legendary Hyperno won in 1978.
He was Australian Horse of the Year in 1981, bolstered no doubt by his 1979 Melbourne Cup win, wins in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 1979 and 1980 and many other major wins, such as The BMW, C. F. Orr Stakes, Australian Cup and Rawson Stakes.
He made 76 jumps for 20 wins, 27 placings and $722,000.
The Adelaide Cup winner for 1968 was Rain Lover.
He was the Australian Horse of the Year in 1969 and he made 46 jumps for 17 wins and 21 placings, yet he earned just $188,000 despite winning the Melbourne Cup in 1968 and 1969.
Rain Lover won other major races, such as the MacKinnon Stakes, Chipping Norton Stakes and St. George Stakes twice.
He did that while racing against the likes of Big Philou and Fileur, a son of legendary French sire Le Filou.
Rain Lover was only adequate as a stallion. Neither his quantity nor his quality was anything like his race record would suggest.
Proceeding back in time, we simply mention that the race was not held in 1942 and 1943 – something about a world global conflict that we mentioned earlier.
We next look at the dual winner from 1911 and 1912, Eye Glass.
He was a British horse foaled in 1907 that seems to have done much of his racing and all of his winning in South Australia, as we can credit him with winning the 1912 SAJC Elder Stakes.
The Adelaide Cup at that time was apparently the Adelaide Racing Club Parkside Stakes, but we are taking that on faith, along with the factoid that around that time, the race was 10 furlongs, approximately 2000 metres.
We want to mention 1910 Adelaide Cup winner Medaglia, as she is the first mare we have encountered in our random exam of the winners list. She was a good racer in South Australia, with a win in the SA Stakes and a win in Victoria in the Christmas Stakes.
Our trip back in time necessitates mention of the race being abandoned in the three years of 1886, 1887 and 1888.
The winner in 1885 was Lord Wilton.
That was the year the race was fun at Flemington following the financial collapse of the SAJC.
He was unremarkable for the most part, but he did run second to Blink Bonny in the 1884 Caulfield Cup.
The year prior, the winner was a true champion and legend of the Australian Turf.
It was Malua in 1884.
Along with the Adelaide Cup, he won the Melbourne Cup, Melbourne Stakes, Newmarket Handicap and perhaps most impressively of all, the 1889 Grand National Hurdle after being converted from flats to jumps as an older horse.
He made 47 jumps for 12 wins and 13 placings.
He is quite possibly the best racer to come out of Tasmania and he was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2003.
As a sire, Malua was responsible for 1891 Melbourne Cup winner Malvolio, the 1897 Adelaide Cup winner Mora and 1900 Caulfield Cup winner Ingliston.
The Adelaide Cup was not run in 1870 and 1871.
The final winner we will have a look at is dual winner from 1866 and 1887, Cowra.
She was a filly foaled in 1862. She had a British sire and British connections all the way on the side of her sire Fisherman, but the table for her dam is completely blank.
The Adelaide Cup has proven to be a strong draw for staying racers, especially in the modern era where staying races have dropped out of fashion and most Australian breeders are focused on producing middle distance and sprint horses.
There were some distinguished names on the list of Adelaide Cup winners and more than a few have used the race to win the Melbourne Cup, often in the same year as they moved from autumn to spring racing.
Adelaide Cup Past Winners
|2020||King Of Leogrance|
|2003||Pillage 'N Plunder|
|2002||The A Train|
|1981||Just A Dash|
|1961||Far Away Places|
|1939||Son Of Aurous|
|1874||Ace Of Trumps|