The Rose of Kingston Stakes is a Group 2 race for mares aged four years and above run over 1400 metres at Flemington Racecourse under set weight plus penalty conditions at the meeting that includes the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes.
The race is held on the same day when a lot of attention is focused on Randwick, where three Group races, including the Epsom Handicap, attract the top liners.
The Rose of Kingston Stakes seems like a consolation race for mares that have not risen to the top ranks.
Prizemoney for the race, as of 2021, is $300,000.
Still A Star was the 2021 winner. She received $180,000 for beating Pride Of Jenni into second, with the second favourite Mystic Journey third.
The replay of the race can be found at the following link.
History of the Rose of Kingston Stakes
The Rose of Kingston Stakes is a newer race in the sense of comparing it to the history of racing in Australia.
It was first run in 1989 and it sometimes has the appearance of a consolation race for mares that did not quite have the chops to make it as milers or pure sprinters, or to make it to the major Group 1 glory that is the goal of every owner and trainer.
The race name is the officially registered name of the race, but it was called that only in 2009 and from 2020 onwards.
Sponsorships have seen the race jump for the first time as the Honda Prelude Stakes. It kept that name until 1994, when it was the Hardy Brothers Prelude. It became the Blazer Menswear Stakes for the year of 1998. It was the Gillette Stakes for 1999. It became the Jayco Stakes for 2000 – 2005. It was the unwieldy name of the Melbourne Cup Carnival Preview Stakes in 2006 and we imagine a good mare could cover the trip in the time it takes to say that name.
It was the U C I Stakes for 2007, the Blazer Stakes without the menswear for 2008. After going as the Rose of Kingston Stakes for 2009, the menswear seller had the naming rights to the race from 2010 to 2019, using the name Blazer Stakes.
Rose Of Kingston was an Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year for the 1981 – 1982 racing season.
We noticed the similarity of the names of Rose Of Kingston and Kingston Town, which caused us to investigate the lines of the two.
Kingston Town dropped two years prior to Rose Of Kingston. There was one common ancestor, specifically the Brit stallion Hyperion, but hundreds, perhaps thousands of Australian horses have some lines to Hyperion.
The length of the race has always been 1400 metres, if we can overlook some races that added anything from 10 to 17 metres for some editions.
The race grade from 1990 – 1996 was Listed. It spent eight years as Group 3 level and became Group 2 in 2005 through the present.
Race Venue for the Rose of Kingston Stakes
Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne has always been the site for the Tea Rose Stakes.
At 1400 metres, it might be thought that the horses would use the 1200-metre straight, and then run another 200 metres, but that would find them galloping past the grandstands and running the tight turn on the west side of the course.
Instead, they start on the sweeping turn directly opposite the grandstands and finish on the straight that is on the north side, opposite the Maribyrnong River.
Racing History of the Rose of Kingston Stakes
We would not expect to see top names as the winners of the Rose of Kingston Stakes. Female horses with high potential have already moved on to the Group 1 sprints and miles, while four-year-olds such as the list of winners suggests are mainly mares that have yet to find boyfriends and produce foals.
We carried this expectation into our examination of the list of winners of the Rose of Kingston Stakes and this is what we found.
The first winner was Lady Jess in 1989.
This New Zealand mare did not leave much behind by way of a racing record and her lines look as though someone just threw a bunch of northern hemisphere horses into a pasture and left it to nature. The exception is on her dam’s side, where if we look back five generations, we see Hyperion and Night Raid.
Piper’s Belle from 1990 is much the same, but she had some envious lines that included Ireland’s Star Kingdom on her sire’s side and Canada’s Northern Dancer on both sides. One source we consulted shows her as winning $340,000, which was good-not-great for 1990.
Holiday Lover from 1991 supplied a couple of facts we usually do not encounter.
She was apparently a temperamental type that disliked dogs and men.
That is more common in the human species. For the record, we like most dogs better than we like most humans, but if they go after our foals, we begin to dislike them. Holiday Lover did not like dogs because one attacked her when she was just a foal.
We also learned that she won the 1992 VRC Group 3 Bobbie Lewis Quality.
The next winner of the Rose of Kingston Stakes was 1992’s Danjiki.
She did most of her winning in New Zealand, but she did win the VATC Tristarc Stakes when it was still a Listed race. Danjiki make 51 jumps for 10 wins and 14 placings, including a second placing to Never Undercharge in the 1993 Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap.
Excited Angel from 1993 was a bit better than her predecessors.
She earned almost three-quarters of a million dollars from 61 starts for 12 wins and 16 placings. She had a couple second placings; one to Schillaci is the Group 1 Futurity Stakes and another to Primacy in the Group 1 Nissan Stakes in 1993.
The winner from 1995 was Tolanda.
Like Excited Angel, she produced a Group 1 second placing in the Nissan Stakes, with Seascray finishing a neck ahead.
Chlorophyll, the winner from 1996, is the head of the class to this point in the history of the Rose of Kingston Stakes.
She had a four-race win streak from late 1995 through March of 1996 that culminated with a three-length victory over Bionic Bess in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes at Rosehill. Her next race was the Group 2 Queen of the Turf Stakes at Rosehill, where she fell of the map to finish ninth by almost seven lengths.
The next winner, from 1997, was Will Fly. She did a little flying, winning the race from Bionic Bess and Will Fly beat Bionic Bess in the next race for a victory in the Group 3 Tristarc Stakes.
Hula Wonder did little other than win the Rose of Kingston Stakes in 1999, other than produce another Group 3 win the Group 3 W. H. Stock stakes at Moonee Valley the following year.
For 2000, the winner Ramano's Star did not do a lot. After winning, she followed the path of many of her predecessors and tried the Group 3 Tristarc Stakes, but could do no more than sixth place. She went out on a high note, if winning a mares’ handicap at Sandown could be considered a note of any kind.
Tickle My from 2001 was a pretty good galloper. She beat Hula Wonder when she took the race in 2001. She won the Group 2 Sunline Stakes in 2003 as her last victory.
Hosannah from 2002 came close to ascending to marquee status, with over $828,000 in winnings. Her third race at Rosehill in 2001 supplied her a win in the Group 2 Magic Night Stakes before the race was demoted to its current Group 3 status. She also won the Group 2 Queen of the Turf Stakes at Rosehill in 2003.
Vocabulary was the winner in 2003.
She ran second by a head to Lonhro in the 2004 Group 1 C.F. Orr Stakes and second to Reset in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes in her next outing.
Skewiff, from 2004, was third to the 2005 Rose of Kingston Stakes winner, Sky Cuddle, in the 2004 Group 1 Emirates Stakes.
Sky Cuddle from 2005 was near the end of her racing days when she won the race. She jumped two more times, running fourth to Makybe Diva’s win in the 2005 Cox Plate. As we mentioned earlier, she did win at Group 1 level when she took the 2004 Emirates Stakes from Lad Of The Manner.
Divine Madonna from 2006 was the best on the list of winners of the race to that point in time.
She won over $2 million. Her next-to-last race and last win was in the Group 1 Myer Classic. She took the Group 1 Toorak Handicap from Niconero in 2007. She had beaten Niconero in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes and she won a couple of races at Group 2 level.
Vormista never quite lived up to the potential of her sire Testa Rossa, but she won the race in 2007 right after her second place finish in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes.
Bellini Rose from 2008 did some winning and some high placing in major races. She was second to Vormista in the 2007 edition of the Rose of Kingston Stakes. Her victory in 2008 was her last win and second-last jump of her career. She did get a couple Group 1 jumps in the Myer Classic in 2007 and 2008, but did not place either time.
Cats Whisker, the 2009 winner, came up through the ranks of country tracks, as did many of the others before her. The Rose of Kingston was her last race and her sixth victory of a short career of just 13 races for six wins and four placings. She was tried at Group 1 in the 1,000 Guineas, where she finished second to Gallica.
Palacio De Cristal, the winner from 2010, was given five chances at Group 1 level, but her best result was a third in the 2010 Coolmore Stud Stakes. She did win at Group 2 level with the Villiers Stakes the prior year.
The winner from 2011 was Lady Lynette.
She won over $1 million from 51 jumps for 14 wins and 18 placings.
She was second to Typhoon Tracy in the 2009 Meyer Classic, although she was almost five lengths behind the winner. Her win in the Rose of Kingston was her last at Group level.
Mosheen, from 2012, won over $2.7 million from just 18 jumps that produced eight wins and four placings. She was good enough to win over trips from 1000 to 2500 metres. She was second to Sepoy in the 2011 Golden Slipper Stake. Her staying race win was the 2011 Group 1 Crown Oaks. She won the Group 1 Australian Guineas from Strike The Stars, while betting favourite Helmet failed to fire.
Mosheen followed with Group 1 wins in the Randwick Guineas and the Vinery Stud Stakes.
Fire Up Fifi from 2013 would discover that the Rose of Kingston Stakes would be her last win, despite being given 10 more starts.
La Passe, the 2015 winner, backed with a win in the Group 2 Tristarc Stakes, but never won again.
French Emotion, the winner from 2016, went for the repeat in 2017, but could manage nothing better than eighth. She ran a close second to I Am A Star in the Myer Classic.
The winner from 2018 was Invincibella.
She may have been the best of the lot, with over $3 million in earnings from 43 jumps for 12 wins and 12 placings. She beat Osborne Bulls in a BM 83 race at Rosehill. Her Rose of Kingston win came at the expense of Savatiano. She won at Group 1 level with the 2019 Tatt’s Tiara, again putting Savatiano behind her.
Haut Brion Her, the 2019 winner, was good enough to have a slot in The Everest in 2020, but not good enough to finish better than fifth.
Sierra Sue, from 2020, is still racing as of late 2021 and she repaid her connections’ faith when she won the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes from Dice Roll and Thunderstruck. She must have had some issues in her next race, when Thunderstruck took the win in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap, because she was last of 12 by 50 lengths.
Still A Star, the most recent winner, is showing good potential, if such can be said about a four-year-old mare. She has 10 wins and seven placings from 18 jumps. They may have wasted her with seven consecutive barrier trials, but all that practice produced a win in the Group 3 Vamos Stakes at Launceston, Tasmania, after which they threw her to the wolves in the All-Star Mile at Moonee Valley in March of 2021, where she finished 13th in the field of 15.
The Rose of Kingston Stakes is not exactly the one race you would pick to watch if you could only watch one more race for the rest of your life.
This is not to demean the winners. It is not easy to win a Group race of any level and if we have learned anything in our years of covering racing, it is that fillies and mares races exert a special influence on the hearts and souls of Australian Thoroughbred racing fans.
|Year||Rose Of Kingston Stakes Winners|
|2021||Still A Star|
|2019||Haut Brion Her|
|2017||Now Or Later|
|2013||Fire Up Fi Fi|
|2010||Palacio De Cristal|
|1998||Our Dynamic Lady|