The Chatham Stakes is a Group 3 open handicap race held at Flemington Racecourse during the Flemington spring carnival, usually in late October.
The race has recently been modified, as of 2022, to a trip of 1200 metres from the 1400 metres that it required since 1986. When the race debuted in 1979, it was 1600 metres.
Chatham Stakes Race Details
Race Distance: 1200m
Prize Money: $200,000
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When Is The Chatham Stakes: 2/11/24
What Time Is The Chatham Stakes: TBA
Where Is The Chatham Stakes: Flemington Racecourse
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More Details About The Chatham Stakes
In typical Victorian racing fashion, the distance for the race is not the only thing that has changed. The Chatham Stakes has been all over the racing calendar during the spring carnival. We will examine that further later along.
For 2022, the race is being held at the meeting that features three elite Group 1 races – the Victoria Derby, the Coolmore Stud Stakes and the Empire Rose Stakes.
Prizemoney for the race is currently set at $200,000, and was won in 2021 by Age Of Chivalry, a New Zealand gelding foaled in 2015. He has won over $750,000 from 30 jumps for five wins and nine placings. The Chatham Stakes was his best win and seven jumps since have produced nothing better than a fifth placing.
There was no readily available replay of the race, but there was a replay available for 2020, when another New Zealand gelding, Sansom, won the race. Now retired, Sansom made 29 jumps for nine wins and four placings for earnings of almost $550,000.
History of the Chatham Stakes
The race jumped for the first time in 1978 as the Great Western, the name attached to the race from the debut through 1993. It became the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club Plate for three years, 1994 – 1996.
The race had various names beginning in 1997 and the first instance of Chatham Stakes was in 2008, when the race was named the AAMI Business Insurance Chatham Stakes.
Aside from all the other names, 2018 found the race being called the DeRUCCI Chatham Stakes for one year, followed by the Network Ten Chatham Stakes for 2019 and 2020.
In 2021, the race was the Paramount+ Chatham Stakes.
The officially registered name of the race is the Chatham Stakes.
Like the name, the race has shifted around the Victorian spring carnival as far as the running date is concerned.
It was held on Melbourne Cup day from inception through 1996. It was run on Victoria Derby day from 1997 through 2015. The race jumped twice on VRC Oaks day in 2016 and 2017. The last three times, 2018 – 2021, it was on LKS Mackinnon Stakes Day.
The 1978 race debut, the year the ARB instituted the Group grading system, found the Chatham Stakes as a Listed grade race, with Group 3 status being conferred in 1986.
The current name is in honour of the galloper Chatham that won four major races on multiple occasions. He won the Craven Plate in 1931, 1933 and 1934. He took out the Linlithgow Stakes in 1931, 1932, and 1933, the Epsom Handicap in 1932 and 1933, with dual wins in the Warwick Stakes and Hill Stakes in 1933 and 1934. We have to throw in the 1934 All Aged Stakes and Doncaster Handicap, even though Chatham won those races only once time each.
Chatham will be remembered most, though, for winning the Cox Plate in 1932 and 1934.
Race Venue for the Chatham Stakes
With all the modifications to the Chatham Stakes over the years, it might be expected that the race had shifted to other tracks, but it has always jumped at Flemington.
Now that the trip has been reduced to 1200 metres, we would expect that it would be run on Flemington’s famous “Straight Six” a chute off the course proper that when combined with the home straight, provides 1200 metres of straight sprinting for the gallopers.
Flemington need little by way of introduction or explanation, but the race for which it is known around the world is the Melbourne Cup, the “Race that stops a nation.”
Racing History of the Chatham Stakes
In the lead up to the 2022 edition of the Chatham Stakes, the race has been run 44 times with only one multiple winner. That would be routine if the race was age-restricted, but as an open handicap, it would be reasonable to find more than one racer winning the race more than once.
That multiple winner was Scenic Park, from 2001 and 2003.
We will be checking the list of winners for horses that managed to win above Group 3 grade, won a prestigious major race, or had substantial earnings. We will also check pedigrees for horses that came from famous gallopers or went on to supply notables themselves.
Sarsha’s Choice won the race in its first year, 1978.
She was an Australian mare by Noble Charger from Miss Brioche. Sarsha’s Choice foaled in 1972, so she would have been aged six when she won. She came into the Chatham Stakes with good wins in the SAJC Christmas Handicap. She also won the WATC Railway Stakes the same year as she won the Chatham. That win came in the last jump where the Railway Stakes was a Principal race that was lifted to Group 1 grade the following year.
We could not locate a progeny record for her, but we cannot conclude whether it was because she never had success, an opportunity, or if the records are incomplete.
A 1975 gelding named Blue And White won in 1979. Other wins by him were the 1979 Group 3 George Adams Gold Plate, along with the Lord Mayor’s Mile and the 1980 Waterford Stakes.
A New Zealand stallion named Black Marque was the winner in 1980 and here we have our first mention of Irish super stud Star Kingdom and all that name implies with regard to Black Marque’s lines.
Unfortunately, having Star Kingdom for his grandpa did not help Black Marque from either the racing or the breeding perspective.
Pride Of Century from 1982 was a horse by Century from 1977 that also claims a victory in the Eclipse Stakes when that race was Listed grade.
He was a fair producer at stud, but the records for that time show only four progeny that won any races. Only a 1987 gelding out of Fair Promise did much racing, winning nine times for very little stakes.
The first better type to win the race that we were able to verify was Vivacite from 1983. He won the Chipping Norton Stakes in 1982 when it was a Group 2 race and he won the Canterbury Cup when it was a Group 3. He produced no offspring, as he was a gelding.
La Caissiere was a 1980 filly by Luskin Star, hence another connection to Star Kingdom, won the Wakeful Stakes as a Group 2 race, the Flight Stakes at Group 2 and the Surround Stakes at Group 3. She did have six wins of which we can be certain and it would be probable that her other three wins were unrated handicaps and possibly fillies and mares races.
Served by top stallions, such as Bletchingly and Danehill, La Caissiere supplied seven named foals, four of which earned money, with the best being the 1993 mare Dashing Eagle by Danehill that won almost $600,000.
We would skip the 1985 winner of the Chatham Stakes, Beaumont Babe, if it were just her racing. She won only about $150,000, but she supplied 10 offspring, including 1992’s Skybeau by Dahar that would win almost $650,000.
Targlish from 1987 is possibly the best we have found thus far in terms of results. He was of predominantly northern hemisphere extraction, but his sire and dam were both Aussie products. Good wins by Targlish include the Group 1 The Galaxy, the Group 2 Theo Marks Quality, the Star Kingdom Stakes and the Hall Mark Stakes.
He did not leave a progeny record with any of our sources.
Bowie, a gelding by Best Western, won the Chatham Stakes in 1988.
He did not leave an impressive racing record, despite Bletchingly as a grandsire, with direct lines to Biscay and Star Kingdom.
A 1984 mare named Swiftsynd won the race in 1989.
We looked at her a bit more closely, as her name evoked thoughts of Gunsynd. We failed to establish a connection between the two, but Swiftsynd was a good breeder, with her best being a 1995 gelding by Last Tycoon named Le Zagaletta that won above $1 million.
An American horse (gasp) won the Chatham Stakes in 1991.
His name was Blue Boss and he had lines connecting him to some great racers. Blue Boss’s sire was Halpern Bay, a Nijinsky offspring. One generation further back, another great Canadian, Northern Dancer enters the mix.
Halpern Bay made three starts in the U.S., and was then shipped to Brazil, of all places. Blue Boss was much better than his dad, winning 10 races He won races in Australia over a period of years, winning four times at Group 3 grade and running third in the 1994 Group 1 Oakleigh Plate.
New Smyrna from 1994 was just average. The Chatham Stakes was her first major win, but she does enjoy the distinction of having won the Group 3 Devon Handicap at Flemington in 1996 and 1997.
She did contribute one good offspring, a 1997 gelding by Thunder Gulch named Restless that won almost $600,000.
We skipped a few to arrive at 1998, when the race was won by a gelding named Bezeal Bay. He was by Zabeel, so he had to be good, yes?
He was a little better than good, it turns out. vHe won almost $900,000, but he needed only 25 jumps for 10 wins and 6 placings. After winning, he won the Group 1 Emirates Stakes next up, which was his last win, although he came within half a length of winning the C. F. Orr Stakes in 1999.
Another gelding, Black Bean, won the race in 1999.
He earned over $1.3 million from 39 jumps for eight wins and seven placings. His big win came in 2000 when he won The Galaxy at Group 1 level.
Scenic Park won the Chatham Stakes in 2001 and 2003.
These wins may be disputable, though, because we could not find a horse by that name that foaled in the right years to be winning the Chatham Stakes. There were two by that name, but both foaled well after 2003, so we have to recuse ourselves from what seems to be given as the only two-time winner of the race.
A gelding by the exceptional sire Snippets named Malcolm won the race in 2006. He won over three quarters of a million dollars with good runs in several Group 1 races and a good win in the Group 2 Ajax Stakes that same year.
All Silent won the race in 2008.
He was a gelding by a U.S. stallion that won almost $1.7 million from 33 jumps for eight wins and two placings.
Like the 1998 winner Bezeal Bay, he would go on to win the Group 1 Emirates Stakes. He won again at Group 1 level in 2009 by crossing first in the 2009 Patinack Classic at Flemington for the last win of his career.
Another million dollar earner was the gelding Centennial Park from 2009. He won just over $1 million from 60 jumps for 8 wins and 12 placings. Centennial Park won for the final time in 2013 when he took out the Super Saturday Listed at Flemington.
Poor Judge was the winner in 2010.
A gelding by a U.S. sire, we probably would not mention him but for the fact that he was right there in 2010 when he came within half a length of More Joyous when she won the Group 1 Toorak Handicap. When Poor Judge won, he beat the 2009 winner Centennial Park into third.
Yet another million dollar-winning gelding, Woorim, took the race in 2011. He scored at Group 1 grade in 2012 when he won the Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield.
The familiar name of Fawkner appears on the list of Chatham Stakes winners for 2012.
Fawkner won more than $3.8 million from just 32 jumps for 11 wins and 9 placings. He won the 2013 Caulfield Cup easily, and then ran sixth in that year’s Melbourne Cup. Another Group 1 win followed in 2014 with a victory in the Caulfield Stakes. Next up, he came within a neck of winning the Cox Plate, followed by a 10th place in the 2014 Melbourne Cup.
His next race was a Group 1 win of the Makybe Diva Stakes. It was his final win, but he came close to Mourinho in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes.
A gelding by Encosta De Lago, Smokin' Joey was the winner in 2013.
He won almost $1.5 million, including a win at Group 1 level in 2014 when he was first across in The Goodwood at Morphettville.
The winner from 2014 was Hucklebuck.
He won over $1.1 million and like some of his predecessor winners of the Chatham Stakes, he won at Group 1 Grade when he won the Emirates Stakes by beating Lucky Hussler. He was the South Australian Horse of the Year in 2015.
Another million-dollar winning gelding came along to win the Chatham Stakes in 2015.
His name was Disposition. He was never worse than second in his first seven jumps. He had close seconds to Stratum Star in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes, followed by another second to Lucky Hussler in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap in his two jumps prior to his Chatham Stakes win.
Hellova Street was the winner in 2017.
He won above a million dollars from 59 jumps for 20 wins and 15 placings, a pretty remarkable performance considering that he never won above Group 3 and many of his wins came on tracks in Tasmania and New Zealand.
Another gelding, this one by Fastnet Rock, named Dreamforce, won the race in 2017.
He won over $2.5 million from 41 jumps for 13 wins and 12 placings. Dreamforce had a Group 1 win in 2020 when he beat The Bostonian with Te Akau Shark into third in the George Ryder Stakes.
Reykjavik was the winner in 2019.
He was an entire by Artie Schiller, a U.S. horse, that won $738,000 from 51 jumps for 8 wins and 16 placings. Now deceased, he did not leave any progeny records.
The Chatham Stakes does not get the respect it deserves when considering the talent of the namesake, Chatham.
There were several good Group 1 winners and some that did okay at stud, but a race such as this that is constantly modified, especially with regard to its slot on the racing calendar, is just a filler race for the spring carnival, where most racing fans will be focused on the major spring races in Victoria.
Chatham Stakes Past Winners
|2021||Age Of Chivalry|
|2007||Count To Zero|
|2004||Great Is Great|
|2002||To Be Fair|
|2000||Matter Of Honour|
|1990||Power Of Destiny|
|1982||Pride Of Century|
|1979||Blue And White|