The Danehill Stakes is a Victorian Racing Club Group 2 graded race that is run over a distance of 1200 metres. The Danehill Stakes has had many names over the years but has been run at the same racecourse each year - Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne.
The Danehill Stakes is a race that is open to horses that are three years or older and is run under set weight conditions with penalties.
The Danehill Stakes takes place in September of each year as a lead up race to the Spring Carnival. The race has a current prize pool of $200,000 however this expected to rise in the coming year due to additional funding by the VRC.
History Of The Danehill Stakes
The Danehill Stakes saw its first running in 1982 when the race was won by a horse called Fiesta Star.
Since 1982 there have been significant changes to the race to sculpt it into the race that we know as the Danehill Stakes bet on today.
When it was launched nearly 40 years ago the race was a Listed grade race that was called The Black Douglas and was run over 1100m on Victoria Derby Day. The race continued to be run on Victoria Derby Day in its early days until the VRC moved the race to September and moved the Ascot Vale Stakes (Now - Coolmore Stud Stakes) to that day in its place.
The Danehill Stakes has also been run under 5 more different banners since it was run as The Black Douglas in 1982. The Danehill was also called The Hilton On The Park Stakes, The Crown Casino Stakes, VRC Stakes, The Chivas Regal and The L’Oreal Plate before being named the Danehill in 2006.
The race is now much more settled as the Danehill Stakes which is run over 1200m and at Group 2 level after it was upgraded from a Group 3 in 2009.
The Danehill Stakes were renamed in 2006 after the great breeding sire Danehill who was the leading sire in Australia between 1995 and 1997 and again in 2000 through to 2005.
Danehill didn’t make too many waves on the race track only running on 9 occasions however he did manage to win on 4 of those including the Cork and Orrery Stakes as well as the Haydock Sprint Cup in the UK.
In his career the champion sire amassed just $340,000 in prize money. A fraction of the $24m that coolmore paid for Danehill to obtain sole ownership in 1996.
What's most impressive about Danehill is his breeding record as a sire with him to this day holding the title of the most successful sire of all time with 349 stakes winners and 89 Group / Grade 1 winners across the world.
In Australia Danehill was the leading sire on 9 separate occasions as well as the leading sire in Great Britain and Ireland three times and the leading sire in France twice all of which demonstrated his pedigree on both sides of the equator.
Danehill will forever have a footprint on Australian racing with many of his progeny creating their own successful bloodlines. Horses the like of Exceed and Excel, Danestorm and Fastnet Rock have all won Group 1 races as well as going on to have successful carries as sires.
Race Venue For The Danehill Stakes
The Danehill Stakes are run at Flemington Racecourse in September of each year. Flemington Racecourse is located in Melbourne and makes up one of the three major metro tracks along with Caulfield Racecourse and Moonee Valley Racecourse.
Unlike the other two racecourses Flemington is run by the Victorian Racing Club whereas Caulfield and Moonee Valley are run by the Melbourne Racing Club. Flemington is in fact home to the VRC operation and often referred to as Racing HQ.
The Flemington Racecourse is pear shaped in its figure with long sweeping bends leading into a long and wide home straight. The Danehill Stakes is one of the few races held at VRC HQ that is in fact run up the long straight that runs off Flemington.
The ‘straight six’ as it’s known is a 1200m straight track that hosts straight sprint races at distances of 1200m and 1000m. The straight offers trainers to fully test the speed of there runners without having to navigate a home turn meaning it is a true sprint test.
Flemington Racecourse, besides The Danehill Stakes, is best known for the Melbourne Cup which is held on the first Tuesday of November each year. The race, which was first run in 1861, is to this day the richest 3200m race and also the richest handicap in the world.
The racecourse today currently hosts most of Australia’s premier racing with races such as the VRC Derby, VRC Oaks, Mackinnon Stakes, Lightning Stakes and Newmarket Handicap are held at Flemington.
In particular the Lightning Stakes and the Newmarket Handicap bear relevance to The Danehill Stakes as they are run down the Flemington Straight at Group 1 level.
One horse in particular has won all three down the straight and the Lightning Stakes now in fact bears her name. Black Caviar.
Previous Winners Of The Danehill Stakes
There have been 39 previous winners of the Danehill Stakes with Fiesta Star winning the very first edition of the race back in 1982.
Since then the calibre of racing has improved year on year with the likes of the aforementioned Black Caviar, Snitzerland and Catchy all winning the race over the years.
When the great Black Caviar won the race in 2009 no one knew how her career would pan out or the superstar she would become. It was her second race back as a 3 year old after winning a listed race first up by 4 lengths.
She did court controversy early on in the race however as she stumbled out of the blocks but was quick to regain her composure and put in a typical front running performance that would win the 2009 Danehill Stakes. Black Caviar would go on to win 25 races without tasting defeat.
Probably one of the most fitting winners of the Danehill Stakes was his own progeny in the form of Fastnet Rock who won the race in 2004 when it was renamed the L’Oreal Plate as a result of sponsorship.
Fastnet Rock was one of Danehill’s true examples of his talented offspring as the then 3 year old won the Danehill Stakes, Lexus Classic, Lighting Stakes and Oakleigh Plate all in the same season.
In more recent years horses with huge potential, both racing and breeding have won the Danehill Stakes with Group 1 winners like Rich Enuff, Charlie Boy, Catchy and Sepoy all winning and edition of the race on there way to claiming glory at the highest grade.
The 2020 Danehill Stakes were won by Doubtland for the Hawkes Racing team under the ride of William Pike. It was a relative surprise on the day as Doubtland had sat at $7.50 in betting with Prague the $1.80 hot favourite.
Conclusion For The Danehill Stakes
The remodeling and remoulding of the Danehill Stakes from its inception in 1982 has resulted in a great race that has produced several high quality runners who have gone on to achieve greatness.
With names like Black Caviar, Fastnet Rock and Catchy all winning the race as 3 year olds and then going on to win Group 1 titles it is a true testament to how good the Danehill Stakes can be for finding talent.
Naming the race after the great Danehill despite never racing in Australia also demonstrates his influence in racing to this day and how it will do for generations to come. Being the leading sire in Australia for 9 years is an achievement we are unlikely to see emulated for some time to come.
In 2021 we can expect more of the same. With the added benefits of a crowd at Flemington Racecourse and increased prize money, competition is set to be bigger than ever and definitely worth watching for formlines into Spring.
Who knows, we might see a horse win The Danehill Stakes that goes on to go undefeated for 25 races. You just never know!
|Year||Danehill Stakes Winners|
|2007||Tan Tat De Lago|
|1994||I Love Sydney|