The Coolmore Stud Stakes is a Group 1 sprint race of 1200 metres that is restricted to three-year-old Thoroughbreds and run under set weight conditions at Flemington Racecourse.
The race is presented by the Victoria Racing Club.
It is one of four Group 1 races that take place on Victoria Derby Day. The others are the feature Victoria Derby, the Empire Rose Stakes and the Cantala Stakes.
Many people simply refer to the meeting as Derby Day. There have been instances where there were more spectators at Flemington for Derby Day that there were for the Melbourne Cup race that follows Derby Day on the subsequent Tuesday.
As of 2020, the prizemoney for the race was $1.5 million. September run captured $902,100 for her win and the actual prizemoney figure for the race without rounding was $1,502,100.
History of the Coolmore Stud Stakes
Although the official name of the race is the Ascot Vale Stakes, the common name of Coolmore Stud Stakes is how most people will recognise the race.
The headquarters of Coolmore Stud is in Ireland, but there are branches in America, in Kentucky, of course, and Australia near Jerry Plains in the Hunter Region of New South Wales.
Coolmore Stud also breeds horse in Ireland for the National Hunt, aka the “jumps”.
We do not care about that jumping business here. As for flats sires, some of the ones residing at Coolmore Stud have been So You Think and Fastnet Rock. So You Think has served in Australia and Ireland, but Fastnet Rock seems to have been limited to Australia.
The Coolmore Stud Stakes was first run in 1863, two years after the first Melbourne Cup.
It was run during the autumn from inception until 1965 and it was a juvenile race for two-year-olds. The race was not held from 1966 through 1968, skipping three editions. It returned in 1969 as a race for three-year-olds. Skipping those three years meant that there was never a horse that won as a two-year-old and again as a three-year-old.
The Coolmore Stud Stakes was run as a 1000-metre sprint from its inception through 1872. It was extended to 1200 metres from that time until 1972, although in those days it was six furlongs. It has remained 1200 metres since, with the exception of 1985, when it was shortened by 30 metres to 1170m.
The race achieved Principal race status in 1932 through 1978. With the introduction of the Group system, it became Group 2 in 1979 and finally Group 1 beginning in 2006.
Race Venue for the Coolmore Stud Stakes
The race is and has always been held at Australia’s most famous track, Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. The race is run on Flemington’s famous “straight six,” so there is no turning involved, which renders the barrier draw irrelevant, although the experts might mention that the track might be different across the width of the straight.
Flemington has a rich history of racing and for anyone interested in learning more, we suggest you visit our page devoted to Flemington:
Racing History Coolmore Stud Stakes as a Two-Year-Old Race
Races for juveniles are often entertaining, unless you are a punter trying to pick a winner. Young horses can be unpredictable, so being a rails bookie holding money on two-year-olds would be anxiety inducing.
One day, a two-year-old will look unbeatable. Another day, the young horse may not try. Throw in trainers and connections trying to get into handicaps with the lightest possible weight and you have a recipe for shenanigans.
Here are some of the winners of the Coolmore Stud Stakes when it was age-restricted to two-year-olds.
Records from before the 1990s can be sketchy at times for punters, unless the horse under discussion was one of the legends, but we will do the best we can.
The first winner, in 1863, was Freestone. Not much information remains for this galloper. A lack of originality taints Freestone’s lines; however, as his sire was an Australian stallion named Touchstone, foaled in 1852. Touchstone’s sire was a British horse named Touchstone, foaled in 1831.
Initially, we thought we had a case of a horse being his own father, but not even Goldolphin could pull that one off.
Bred by H. Fisher, 1864 winner Lady Heron winning meant that we did not have to wait long for a filly to win. All we know for certain is that she was bred in Victoria and dropped in 1862.
We had to skip ahead to find a significant Coolmore Stud Stakes winner. Between the inception of the race and 1896, we found no horse that left any sort of impact on Australian Thoroughbred racing.
That first significant winner in 1896 was Newhaven.
Newhaven raced in Australia first and finished up in England. The same year he won the Coolmore, when it was an autumn race, he won the Victoria Derby and the Melbourne Cup. An early Australian filmmaker named Marius Sestier filmed English Baroness and author Lady Brassey placing the Blue Ribbon on Newhaven when he won the Victoria Derby. Days later, Sestier filmed Newhaven winning the Melbourne Cup, the first time the race was captured on film.
Newhaven had 26 jumps in Australia, winning 15 and placing in six, certainly good enough to earn a steamship ticket to England, where her raced 13 times for four wins and four placings, including the Epsom Gold Cup in 1899.
The winner in 1915 was named Two and the winner in 1917 was Thrice.
If you sense a connection, go to the head of the class. Both Two and Thrice had the same sire, Great Britain’s The Welkin. If you sense a connection between Two, Thrice and 1916 winner Deneb, not only do you go to the head of the class, you get to teach. Deneb was also sired by The Welkin. Deneb should have been Thrice, while Thrice should have been Four.
Fast forward to 1924 and you have the immediately recognisable name of Heroic for that year’s Coolmore Stud Stakes winner.
Heroic truly was. He won the Memsie Stakes in 1925 and 1926, along with the Cox Plate and the Newmarket Handicap in 1926. He beat Windbag in the 1926 weight-for-age AJC Cumberland Stakes over 14 furlongs. He beat the champion Manfred in the 1926 Memsie Stakes. As a four-year-old, he made 18 starts.
Heroic is an Australian Racing Hall of Fame member, and he was the leading sire in Australia from 1933 through 1939. His most famous progeny were Ajax and Melbourne Cup winner Hall Mark. Heroic sired 29 stakes winners that accounted for 110 stakes wins.
Heroic died in 1939, the year that High Caste won the Coolmore Stud Stakes.
High Caste was nigh unbeatable in 1939. He won 10 major races. He raced 75 times, which gives him automatic entrance into the Racing Hall of Fame.
The significant horse Royal Gem won in 1945.
Royal Gem won many big races, but none bigger than the 1946 Caulfield Cup. That victory was tainted somewhat by Royal Gem’s beating the champion Bernborough that had conceded 11 kg to Royal Gem. The steward may have been remorseful, as they had Royal Gem running with almost 66 kg for a couple of his wins. In the 1948 Underwood Stakes, Royal Gem won with 70 kg.
Three year later, 1948, the winner was Comic Court.
This Hall of Fame champion won the 1950 Melbourne Cup and he won the Memsie Stakes, the LKS Mackinnon Stakes, Turnbull Stakes and the St. George Stakes twice each.
Bart Cummings was Comic Court’s strapper.
Racing History Coolmore Stud Stakes as a Three-Year-Old Race
Straight out of the barrier, the first winner when the Coolmore Stud Stakes was run as a race for three-year-olds, we find the 1969 winner Vain. He was the Golden Slipper Stakes winner that year and he won a total of nine major races. A more extensive account of Vain can be found here:
1973 went to Taj Rossi, winner of the Cox Plate that same year and Australian Horse of the Year in 1974. By this time, Bart Cummings was a trainer and no longer a strapper.
Surround won the race in 1976. She also won the 1976 Cox Plate. Before Winx, she was the only filly to win the Cox Plate. She made 28 starts for 17 wins and four placings.
Two years later, 1978, the race went to Manikato. Manikato owned the Futurity Stakes four times and won the William Reid Stakes five times in a row from 1979 through 1983. For a more in-depth look at Manikato, look here
Another two years went by until Rose Of Kingston took the post in 1981. Some of her other wins were the Champagne Stakes, the Australasian Oaks and the Australian Derby.
The next name we come across is that of the 1988 winner Zeditave. We have encountered his name on quite a few winners’ lists of big Australian races. He retired after just 17 races, but he was the sort who won or went home. He had 14 wins and zero placings.
Another familiar name is that of 1996 Coolmore Stud Stakes winner Encosta De Lago. This horse raced just eight times for three wins and three thirds, as the owners, one of them being Coolmore Stud, thought he was better placed as a stud.
They were right on that score. Encosta De Lago claims credit for Alinghi, Chautauqua, Princess Coup, Sacred Kingdom and Sirmione. Those five account for approximately $23 million in prize money. His other offspring combined with the above five earned around $90 million.
It is interesting that Encosta De Lago was the sire of Alinghi, because she was the next significant winner of the race in 2004. She was the Australian Champion Three Year Old Filly in 2005 and won over $4 million in 18 starts for 11 wins and five placings. A couple of her big wins were the Blue Diamond Stakes in 2004 and the Newmarket Handicap in 2005.
Weekend Hussler was the 2007 winner. He won over $3 million from 21 starts for 12 wins and one second. He was the Australian Champion Racehorse of the year and the Australian Champion Three Year Old C & G in the year 2008.
Star Witness was the 2010 winner. He made 12 starts for four wins and five placings before taking up more leisurely duties at Widden Stud.
The next significant winner was 2014’s Brazen Beau, even if we are jumping over 2013 winner Zoustar. Brazen Beau was trained by Chris Waller, which almost tells you everything you need to know, but we will include that he won the Newmarket Handicap in 2015 and earned over $1.6 million form 12 starts for five wins and four seconds.
Merchant Navy won in 2017. Like many modern stallions, he was lightly raced, just 10 starts for seven wins and two thirds. He has won over $2 million. His sire is Fastnet Rock and Merchant Navy is now retired to stud duty - TattsTAB
Sunlight was the 2018 winner. She has won over $6.5 million, much of it from winning the Magic Millions 2YO Classic in 2018. She was the Australian Champion Three Year Old Filly for 2018. In 2019, she won the Newmarket Handicap, the William Reid Stakes and the Gilgai Stakes.
Coolmore Stud paid $4.2 million for her in July of 2020 and she was to be served by American 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify.
Completing our list of Coolmore Stud Stakes winners are Exceedance from 2019 and September Run from 2020.
The Coolmore Stud Stakes is a heritage race that got its start just after the Melbourne Cup.
It has been won by many great champions.
A unique aspect is that the race shifted from being for two-year-olds to being for three-year-olds. We often see race distances change and once in a while, we see running conditions change, but the Coolmore Stud Stakes is the only example we have encountered of the age restriction being modified.
|Year||Coolmore Stud Stakes Winners|
|1997||Show No Emotion|
|1996||Encosta De Lago|
|1981||Rose Of Kingston|
|1875||Maid Of All Work|
|1872||King Of The Ring|