The Group 3 Launceston Cup jumps in February at Launceston Racecourse in Tasmania. It is run over 2400 metres and is open to all ages and genders.
Prizemoney for the race, as of early 2023, is $250,000.
Launceston Cup Race Details
Race Distance: 2400m
Prize Money: $250,000
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When Is The Launceston Cup: 21/2/24
What Time Is The Launceston Cup: TBA
Where Is The Launceston Cup: Launceston Racecourse
How To Live Stream The Launceston Cup
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More Details About The Launceston Cup
The 2022 winner was Aurora’s Symphony. He was priced longer than three others were, so he was not expected to win, but win he did.
The six-year-old gelding of mainly northern hemisphere lines is listed as active, as of early 2023. After running the junior circuit of country tracks, Aurora’s Symphony did okay on the mainland without placing. He has not won since winning the race from Ho Ho Khan.
More Details about the Launceston Cup
The race is an open handicap event and is run over 2400 metres, distinguishing it as one of a small number of staying races in a sport where staying races seem to be either going by the wayside entirely or abbreviated drastically.
The current 2400-metre trip is half of what it was in the early years, when 4800-metre races were fairly common.
The Group 3 Launceston Cup might be the same trip, but it is not likely that any of the horses will win the Caulfield Cup.
As an open handicap, the race has supplied many multiple winners, but in all of the history of Thoroughbred racing in Australia, we do not recall having seen a multiple winner to match the record of Strop, the winner of the second jump in 1866.
Strop would have been aged five years at the time and another interesting facet to this horse is that his sire, Panic, won the first jump of the race in 1865.
Strop won again in 1869, but he was far from done with the Launceston Cup. He won again in 1874 and 1876, when he would have been 14 or 15 years old.
History of the Launceston Cup
The race made its debut in 1865, just four years after the first Melbourne Cup, adding to the tradition of staying races that are cups named for the city in which they are run.
For a race of this age and considering the lack of reliable technology to determine the winner of a race, it is amazing that there has never been a dead heat. There were only two years when the race was not held – 1870 and 1881.
The race is part of the Tasmanian Summer Racing Carnival. The Group 3 Vamos Stakes and the Listed Mowbray Stakes are part of the meeting.
As we mentioned earlier, the Launceston Cup was a 4800-metre race from the first jump in 1865 through 1873.
It had been shortened to 3200 metres for the years of 1874 – 1879, and was then dropped to 2800 metres in 1880, 2400 metres in 1892, a trip that persisted until 1969. There was a brief period from 1974 through 2001 where the unusual trip of 2600 metres was used. Twenty-four hundred metres was installed in 2002 and has remained constant since.
The race grade was considered Principal until 1980, when the race jumped as a Group 3 grade race when the Group classification system was installed.
Venue for the Launceston Cup
The venue is officially listed as Launceston Racecourse, but it is located in the suburb of Mowbray, not far from the Launceston CBD, so there are times when it is referred to as Mowbray Racecourse.
The facility holds about 25 meeting per year, with the primary races being the Launceston Cup and the Vamos Stakes.
The course is unique in having the appearance of a diamond with dull points. Every turn is slightly different from the others and the gallopers in the Launceston Cup negotiate all of them once and the turn leading into the home straight twice for races of this distance.
It does appear, as of recently, that the facility had been sold to a real estate developer that plans to build houses on the site, but such deals often die un-noticed and all the racing sites seem to think it is business as usual for the 2023 jump of the race.
Racing History of the Launceston Cup
Well, it certainly is a long one, the history of the Launceston Cup is.
The year of 1865 is given as the first year of the race, and not even our vivid imaginations can conjure an image of what Launceston would have looked like in those days, when we imagine the population would have been far below the current 66,000 that makes Launceston Tasmania’s second largest “city.”
Looking at the list of winners, there were no recognisable names, only names that hint of connections to better horses.
As we move through the list, we will focus on the multiple winners. We will look for those rare racers that actually won some major races on the mainland or contributed to the lines of significant racers.
The winner of the first Launceston Cup was Panic in 1865.
There is nothing by way of a racing record for Panic, but he did turn out to be a respectable stud and sire to the 1866 winner, Strop. Panic dropped in 1858 in England and must have done something awful to deserve transport to Tasmania.
It would appear that Panic was doing something we do not believe happens today. He was racing and breeding simultaneously. As the winner of the Launceston Cup in 1865, his son Strop would have been cantering around as a four-year-old when Panic won.
Strop is something else entirely. For one thing, he was gelded, but for the other, he won the Launceston Cup four times over the span of eight years.
A more conventional dual winner was Swiveller, winner in 1879 and 1880.
Now, Swiveller was bred in New South Wales, so it is unclear how he ended up in Tasmania. He could have been sold, or he could have been of such low talent that the Wise Men of the East had no interest in keeping him for racing at Randwick or Rosehill.
Swiveller foaled in 1874. When we look at his progeny record, the earliest foal by him was in 1883, so we suspect he raced in a pattern similar to Strop and Panic.
The next dual winner was Ordella.
This horse is credited with winning the race in 1918 and 1919, but as might be imagined, record keeping may have suffered during the last couple of years of World War I, because we could find no record of Ordella’s existence. We cannot say if Ordella was colt or filly. Granted, Tasmania is not the centre of the Thoroughbred racing universe, but someone has to have accredited those two Launceston Cup wins to Ordella.
The next dual winner was Seignorina, winner in 1923 and 1925. It always attracts us when a dual winner has an intervening year, but after seeing what Strop was able to do, a one-year gap between wins seems almost boring by comparison.
Seignorina was a mare by a U.S. sire and she twice won the Newmarket Handicap – but it was the Tasmanian version of the race, not the Flemington version.
When we arrive at the years of 1954 and 1955, we find the winner was Vamos, the namesake for the Group 3 Vamos Stakes.
We thought, at last, we have a dual winner from the 20th century that has a raced named after them, so there will be evidence to support the naming. Our thoughts were misdirected though. We know the year, 1947 that Vamos came into the world, we know Vamos was a mare with lines connecting her to the Dark and Bay Ronald, two names we often find in connection with the better racers.
Our next dual winner was Brallos in 1976 and 1977.
Brallos was a New Zealand gelding by a sire and dam from Great Britain and his lines were entirely northern hemisphere, so he was a Kiwi horse by being born in New Zealand, as best we can determine.
Free Beer won the Launceston Cup in 1995 and 1996.
A gelding by Fearless Pride, Free Beer made 62 jumps for 13 wins and 10 placings. His earnings were about $228,000.
He had a couple jumps on the mainland nearer the end of his career, but Flemington, Moonee Valley and Sandown, five jumps in all, supplied Free Beer with nothing better than a second in a minor race at Moonee.
Our next multiple winner was St. Andrews.
Another U.S. sire, another gelding, St. Andrews is the only three-time winner of the race as of early 2023. He won the Launceston Cup in 2000, skipped 2001, and then won twice in succession in 2002 and 2003.
St. Andrews made 54 jumps for 11 wins and 18 placings and a little above $600,000 for his racing efforts. All of his jumps were in Tasmania.
That covers any Launceston Cup winners that won the race more than once. Strop was the most admirable, most interesting, given those four wins spread across 10 years.
Shifting to more recent winners, a familiar name appeared in the 2004 winner, Zacielo. This New Zealand horse was by Zabeel, so expectations were undoubtedly high, but his only major wins were the Launceston Cup and the Hobart Cup. He won those races in succession, about a fortnight apart, in 2004.
One trusted source lists Zacielo as a horse, while another lists him as a gelding. Fortunately, there were no offspring attributed to Zacielo, or we would have had to believe in miracles that have not happened for thousands of years.
Another familiar name was the 2013 winner, Geegees Blackflash.
This 2006 gelding by Clangalang made 69 jumps for 22 wins and 27 placings as part of a career that earned almost $1.2 million. His final win was the 2015 Hobart Cup, despite the fact that he made six more jumps.
A better mare named Epingle won the race in 2014.
Epingle made 37 jumps for 6 wins and 16 placings to earn over $785,000. She was by Pins, with Snippet as her grandsire. She had lines tying her to Zabeel on her dam’s side.
She won the Hobart Cup and the Launceston Cup in successive starts and in both those races, she beat Geegee’s Blackflash. After a third in a Group 3 at Rosehill, she ran a respectable fifth in the 2014 Group 1 Sydney Cup. She also won a Group 3 race in Queensland, the Chairman’s Stakes, for her last win.
The winner for 2016 was Up Cups.
He is a gelding by a U.S. sire that won over $400,000 from 63 jumps for 8 wins and 17 placings. He was another of those gallopers that won the Launceston Cup and the Hobart Cup in succession and must have went chasing lightning in a bottle by trying the Adelaide Cup to complete a three Cups set, but he was well back in that try.
The 2017 winner, Big Duke, is a gelding by a U.S. sire that won almost $2 million from 45 jumps for 7 wins and 13 placings.
Big Duke raced extensively on the mainland and even made it into the field for the 2017 Melbourne Cup, where he managed a good fourth, although he was not in touch with the winner, Rekindling. He came within half a length of winning at Group 1 when he lost to Foundry in The Metropolitan and Randwick in 2017.
When Bondeiger won the Launceston Cup in 2018, he beat Fastnet Dragon, although to compare Fastnet Dragon to his sire Fastnet Rock is not a fair comparison.
Eastender from 2019 was another of those gallopers that won the Hobart Cup and Launceston Cup in succession, but had no other major wins.
A New Zealand galloper named Home By Midnight won the race in 2020.
A replay of Home By Midnight finishing at the front in the 2020 Launceston Cup, well before midnight, we presume, can be viewed at the following link.
This gelding by Domesdays has a connection to Fastnet Rock via his dam Fastnet Lady. He retired after 65 jumps for 11 wins and 22 placings for almost $1 million in stakes earnings without a win better than the Launceston Cup.
The 2021 winner was Glass Warrior.
She is a seven-year-old by Ireland’s Glass Harmonium. She has not raced on the mainland and it would seem that after 39 jumps she is down to her last campaign, as she has jumped twice in the first month of 2023.
The Launceston Cup is one of the better races in Tasmania, where there are currently no Group 2 or Group 1 races.
Many of the winners never made it to the mainland and quite of few of those raced on synthetic tracks at times, a place no self-respecting owner or trainer would go except for having no other choice.
We found a couple of better types for the winners and we willingly admit that we could not look at every winner of the race, but we were still impressed by the number of winners that were the result of shuttle stallion breeding practices.
Launceston Cup Past Winners
|2020||Home By Midnight|
|2010||Larrys Never Late|
|2001||Full Of Rhythm|
|1990||Down The Pitch|