The Gilgai Stakes is a Group 2 sprint of 1200 metres on the Flemington straight in late September or early October.
It is run under set-weight plus penalty conditions for three-year-old and older colts, geldings and fillies.
Gilgai Stakes Race Details
Race Distance: 1200m
Prize Money: $300,000
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When Is The Gilgai Stakes: 1/10/22
What Time Is The Gilgai Stakes: TBA
Where Is The Gilgai Stakes: Flemington Racecourse
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More Details About The Gilgai Stakes
Racing on the “Straight Six” can be challenging for some horses that are accustomed to turning, but it is not as though they are hopeless, just that locals that have experience running straight races have a slight edge.
Prizemoney for the race, as of 2021, is $300,000.
Kementari received $180,000 of that money for winning the 2021 race after jumping $9.50 to favourite Zoutori’s $3.60 and Kemalpasa’s $3.80 in a tight race where the first three were neck, neck and neck a the line.
It was the first win for Kementari since the December 2020 win in the Group 3 A. J. Scahill Stakes.
Kementari was at the back for most of the race and unleashed a burst in the final 100 metres to win. That win can be seen at the following link.
History of the Gilgai Stakes
The Gilgai Stakes is a newer race that started in 1984.
From the name, it seems like some sort of mashup of someone named Gilbert and Gai Waterhouse, but the reality is nothing of the sort.
The first 15 times the race was run, it was called the Sir Rupert Steele Stakes. Sir Rupert Steele was the chairman of the Victoria Racing Club. Steele was a World War II veteran who fought in France and Germany before being captured and imprisoned in Stalag Luft 11. He managed to survive, obviously, and if there is one instance where we do not disagree with the VRC race naming policy, this is it.
The VRC changed the race to the Gilgai Farms Stakes in 1999. Gilgai Farms is a horse breeding estate in Nagambie, Victoria, about 140 kilometres due north of Melbourne.
We know that Black Caviar was born there.
From the year 2000, the race has simply been called the Gilgai Stakes.
It was a Listed race until 1987. It became a Group 3 that year, with Group 2 status conferred in 2007.
It has always been 1200 metres and if the VRC wants to continue to run it down the straight, it could be shortened, but not lengthened. Horses that do well here often head for the Linlithgow Stakes or the VRC Sprint Classic, as both are run on the Flemington straight.
Race Venue for the Gilgai Stakes
The Gilgai Stakes is and always has been run at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. The locals often refer to it as “headquarters,” which must confuse the dickens out of visitors from Sydney who believe that headquarters is in fact Royal Randwick.
The racecourse is considered an important cultural heritage site and racing was already being held there in 1851 when the Victoria Turf Club received some Crown land and began developing the site for racing.
The earliest races were said to have been running by 1840.
The Melbourne Cup is the main event each year, but Flemington has 12 additional Group 1 races during the year, with 10 Group 2 and 14 Group 3 races.
Racing History of the Gilgai Stakes
There have been plenty of notable winners of the Gilgai Stakes. We have seen other races with much longer histories that cannot boast of a winners’ list equivalent to that of the Gilgai Stakes.
There have been two multiple winners that just happen to be a couple of favourites of ours. We will reveal them in due time.
The first winner was Royal Troubador. Yes, we know the correct spelling of the word that describes a wandering minstrel is troubadour, but Thoroughbred breeders and owners have been known to play fast and loose with language, which is okay. There were two U.S. horses by the same name, but in those instances, we think it was just because Yanks are poor spellers.
We found two horse, one from Great Britain and another from the U.S. that used the correct spelling of troubadour.
Our Gilgai Stake winning Royal Troubador was foaled in 1981 in New Zealand. We had to go back several generations in the pedigree to find some notable DNA. The U.S. leading sire for eight years was Royal Troubador’s great-grandsire Bold Ruler. The other one that jumped out at us was Ireland’s Star Kingdom, a name that appears so frequently in the pedigrees of Australian race winners that we wonder at his stamina in serving mares.
Royal Troubador was quite capable.
One source we consulted had him winning or placing in more races than he started. Not even Winx or Black Caviar could make that claim.
Making allowances for poor math skills, since we ourselves are challenged in that subject, we can report that Royal Troubador won at Group 2 level with the AJC Expressway Stakes and the VRC Ascot Vale Stakes, with second place in the STC Group 1 George Ryder Stakes and a third in the Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes.
The 1985 winner was Rich Fields Lad.
His lines trace to Star Kingdom on his dam’s side and Melbourne Cup winner Comic Court was the next generation back. Other notable in the line were Great Britain’s Hyperion and Gainsborough.
Rich Fields Lad won 11 times with six placings from 50 career jumps. His Group 1 win was the AJC Galaxy Handicap.
Campaign King was the winner in 1986.
He made 56 starts for 23 wins and seven placings and earned over $1.8 million. We credit him with seven Group 1 wins that includes two George Ryder Stakes victories. He won the All Aged Stakes for his best win, although some might say the Doomben 10,000 was the better win. He raced all over the country, winning in NSW, Victoria, QLD and Western Australia.
The big name winners of the Gilgai Stakes started showing up in 1987 when Placid Ark was that year’s winner.
The Lee Steere Classic at Ascot was his first big win. He backed that win with four consecutive in the Group 1s Lightning Stakes, the Oakleigh Plate and the Newmarket Handicap and the Group 2 Canterbury Stakes, where he beat Campaign King.
Redelva, the winner of the race in 1988, competed and ran well against top horses that include Mannerism, Street Ruffian, Schillaci, Shaftesbury Avenue and Better Loosen Up. His Group 1 wins were the William Reid Stakes, Futurity Stakes and the Lightning Stakes.
Grandiose was the 1989 winner.
He beat Redelva to win the Gilgai Stakes. When he came back to try again in 1990, he was third to Joanne and Redelva. His best win was the 1989 Newmarket Handicap. He won the Group 3 Standish Handicap twice.
The following year produced the first mare to win the race.
She was named Joanne and she made 25 starts for 16 wins and three placings. She won nine of her first 11 races. She never won at Group 1 level, but during her entire career, she was always well placed. Her best finish in a Group 1 was a third in the 1991 Oakleigh Plate.
Vain Sovereign won in 1991. His grandsire was Vain. Vain Sovereign was not of Vain’s calibre, but that is not hard to imagine or any reason to discount him.
When we move ahead to 1994, we find the name of Hareeba on the list of Gilgai Stakes winners.
Hareeba’s first major win was the Group 3 Bobbie Lewis Quality. He followed his win in the Gilgai Stakes with a victory in the Group 1 Southcorp Packaging Stakes, the race that would become the VRC Sprint Classic.
He won the Group 1 Australia Stakes by 5.5 lengths from Spanish Mix and another length back to Schillaci in third.
We will skip ahead to 2000 to find our first dual winner of the Gilgai Stakes.
It was Bomber Bill that year.
He was the sort we admire for working hard. He made 98 starts for 23 wins, 11 placings and just under $1.9 million in prizemoney. Bomber Bill won his first seven races, all at Ascot in WA. The Gilgai Stakes was his first Group win, Group 3 at that time. He won at Group 1 level when he took the Australia Stakes from Scenic Warrior at Moonee Valley.
He went back to the Gilgai Stake in 2001, running seventh. He had another big win in the Group 1 Goodwood at Morphettville.
Bomber Bill won the Gilgai Stakes again in 2003. Looking at his record, it seems at times as though he was in every sprint run anywhere in Australia.
In 2010, the remarkable Hay List was the winner.
Hay List won over $2.5 million from 28 jumps for 15 wins and six placings. Hay List was often lined up against Black Caviar and we all know how that turned out. He won the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap carrying weight that had not been assigned to a winner in more than six decades.
The Group 1 wins were the Manikato Stakes (2010), the All Aged Stakes in 2011 and the previously mentioned Newmarket Handicap in 2012 from Buffering when Buffering enjoyed a four kilo advantage. His win in the Gilgai Stakes came at the end of four successive wins, once of which was the Group 1 Manikato Stakes.
Platelet, the 2013 winner, was a mare trained by Darren Weir that won or placed in 24 of her 32 jumps. She equaled Black Caviar as the only other winner of the Robert Sangster Stakes/Goodwood sprint double.
That win by Platelet set the stage for the next and last horse to win the Gilgai more than once
This one, from 2014, was possibly our favourite sprinter of all time, Chautauqua.
He won again in 2015 and earned more than $8 million from 32 jumps for 13 wins and 11 placings, earning over $8.8 million.
Chautauqua was the Australian Champion Sprinter for 2016 and he owned the T. J. Smith Stakes from 2015 to 2017.
What endeared us to him, though, was that when he decided he had done enough racing, he simply refused to leave the barrier. That happened about seven times and the stewards finally got the signal and prevented him from racing. His retirement came in 2018.
We hope when our time comes and we can no longer write the scintillating text we compose that we will know when it is time to hang up the boots.
A good horse named The Quarterback was the 2016 winner.
The 2016 Gilgai Stakes was his last win, but he won the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap from another of our favourites, Black Heart Bart, with Chautauqua third.
I Am Excited, from 2018, won at Group 1 level when she won The Galaxy. She beat Redzel to win the Group 2 Victory Stakes at Eagle Farm.
Sunlight, from 2019, has won three Group 1 races and over $6.5 million in prizemoney. She has been retired to stud after being named the Australian Champion Three Year Old Filly for 2018/19.
The good horse Zoutori won in 2020.
He is still racing, with close to $2 million in earnings. He was second to Sunlight in the 2019 Gilgai Stakes and his big win was the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap from Indian Pacific in 2021.
Finally, we have Kementari from 2021.
He is still working for James Cummings and Goldolphin. His Gilgai Stakes win came by a head over Zoutori. He won the Group 1 Randwick Guineas from Pierata and Trapeze Artist.
The Gilgai Stakes, as some would say, punches above its weight in terms of notable winners.
The race is perfectly positioned on the Australian Thoroughbred racing calendar for the top sprinters and horses that have shown the ability to run straight races are always good ones to watch when considering form.
Gilgai Stakes Past Winners
|2018||I Am Excited|
|2011||Temple Of Boom|
|2006||Fast 'N' Famous|
|2001||Belle Du Jour|
|1985||Rich Fields Lad|