The Linlithgow is a Group 2 1200-metre sprint held on Derby Day and presented by the Victorian Racing Club.
The race is held on the Flemington straight and has been run since 1868, just seven years after the first Melbourne Cup.
The Linlithgow Stakes holds a prestigious spot on the Australian Thoroughbred racing calendar, as the meeting is part of the festivities leading up to the Melbourne Cup and Derby Day is one of the most attended race meetings in the country.
Prizemoney for the race is $300,000 as of 2020, just a little below the threshold for consideration as a Group 1 race.
It is run under open handicap conditions from 1997. From 1908 through 1996, it was run as a weight-for-age race.
History of the Linlithgow Stakes
If we can be forgiven for mild cynicism, at first we thought that Linlithgow was some minor horse that the VRC decided to honour with a namesake race. Something that won a two-year-old maiden and a few barrier trials, considering the horses that the VRC has seen fit to honour.
It turns out that there have been horses named Linlithgow, six of them, but none from Australia or the southern hemisphere and none that seem to fit the years of the race. There have been mares and stallions/geldings named Linlithgow, and nothing about the name suggests gender.
Still, it is a nice name and but it probably refers to the Scottish town and lake of the same name and the literal meaning is “Lake in a dark hollow,” which seems like an apt description of all of Scotland.
From the first year of the race until 1907, the race was called the Flying Stakes. It was the Linlithgow Stakes from 1908 through 1996. The name persists to this day and it is the best name of the lot, so we are sticking with Linlithgow Stakes.
It was the Emirates Classic from 1997 – 2003. It was the Lexus Classic for 2004 only. For two years, 2005 and 2006, it was The Age Classic. The five years from 2007 – 2011 used the name Salinger Stakes. The next two years used Yellowglen Stakes. In 2014, it became the tab.com.au Stakes, which we would say was the worst name of the lot, except that in 2017 the race became the TAB Stakes.
The race started out as 1200 metres from 1868 – 1886, was stretched twice to first 1400 metres from 1887 – 1907, and then 1600 metres from 1908 – 1967. It was trimmed back to 1400 metres from 1968 through 1991 and reverted to the original and current distance of 1200 metres beginning in 1992.
This certainly made for an interesting mix of winners as sprinters and stayers, along with the mile specialists, have won the race over the years.
The race was classified as a Principal race from inception through 1978 and became Group 2 in 1979 when that classification came into use.
The prizemoney to move up to Group 1 is not there and we suspect it would have to increase to $500,000 for consideration, but the list of winners, at least the notables, suggests that the Linlithgow Stakes is already Group 1.
Race Venue of the Linlithgow Stakes
Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne is sometimes referred to as “headquarters” by people in Victoria at least, and it is the best-known track in the country. Sydney’s Royal Randwick (Racing NSW) is slightly older, so the Wise Men of the East might claim that Randwick is headquarters, but the bragging rights are not critical in any way.
Flemington has what could be described as a pear shape, with tight turns on one end and wider turns on the other end, but the track is wide enough that Thoroughbreds negotiate it quite easily. Deeper detail about Flemington can be found here:
Racing History of the Linlithgow Stakes
With a race as old as the Linlithgow Stakes, one that is not age-restricted, there have been plenty of multiple winners. The fact that good horses came back to the race to try for subsequent wins speaks to the regard with which the race is viewed.
The first winner from 1868 was Gulnare, a filly that dropped the same year as the firs Melbourne Cup. The following year went to Coeur De Lion. While that may sound like a rare name, we found 22 by that name, with five naturally from France. Our Coeur De Lion was a horse foaled in 1866. We found nothing about his racing record; in fact, there are sizeable gaps in his pedigree created by unknown horses several generations prior to him.
The years of 1870 – 1871 gave us our first multiple winner, three times, by Barbelle. She must have been okay to win thrice, but about all we know about her is that she also won the 1868 AJC Mares Produce Stakes, a 2000-metre race that we presume was held at Randwick, but Randwick was already running the Sires’ Produce Stakes, so permit us a bit of speculation.
We are going to skip ahead to 1888 to our next multiple winner from that year and 1889, which was none other than Carbine. Carbine would have won the race as the Flying Stakes over seven furlongs. In our view, Carbine is New Zealand’s equivalent to Phar Lap. He made 43 starts for 33 wins and nine placings. He was either that good, or the competition was that bad. He won the Melbourne Cup and the Sydney Cup and he won the AJC Plate when it was run over 4800 metres. A fuller description of Carbine will be found here:
Moving forward, our next multiple winner was Gladsome from 1904 and 1905. Gladsome was a New Zealand mare that we would include in the Pro Group Racing Hall of Fame if there were such a thing. The reason? Sixty-four jumps for 1 wins and 23 placings. She is credited with 18 stakes race wins and has been described as a champion middle distance mare.
Mountain Princess, the 1912 winner, was a good race mare that won the VATC Caulfield Stakes. We mention her because the 1914 winner was a horse named Mountain Knight, a stallion, but try as we might, we did not find a common ancestor despite the similarity in the names.
Our next multiple winner was from 1916 and 1918. The horse was Wolaroi and he was a good horse that won the Rosehill Guineas and the VRC Derby and compiled a record of 13 wins and 16 placings from 40 jumps.
The winner for 1922 was Violoncello. He was a good stallion of British extraction and in 1922, along with the Linlithgow Stakes when it was a mile race; he won the first running of the Cox Plate, the 1922 Cantala Stakes and the 1922 C.B. Fisher Plate. The year prior, he had won the Caulfield Cup. He raced in England before coming to Australia as a seven-year-old.
In 1924 and 1925, the race was won by The Night Patrol. He won the 1924 Cox Plate and was second in 1925. He won the first running of the William Reid Stakes in 1925 and again in 1926.
The wait for another champion winner was short, as Amounis won in 1926, 1927 and 1929. Amounis was one of the all-time greats and anyone interested in learning more can find more here:
The year of 1928, the year Amounis did not win or may not have participated, belonged to Gothic. Gothic won the Newmarket Handicap twice and the C. M. Lloyd Stakes twice. Gothic was unique for having been bred in Argentina, although he dropped in England. He beat Amounis on four occasions, so his Linlithgow Stakes win in 1928 might have been one of the four. Gothic won eight races that would today be classified as Group 1 and made Hall of Fame jockey Jim Pike look good.
By this time, surely everyone will know that the 1930 winner was Phar Lap. Had to be, given the lustre of the winners’ list to this point. More on Phar Lap will be found here:
The champions keep coming with three wins by Chatham in 1931, 1932 and 1933. Chatham won the Craven Plate three times from 1931 – 1934. He won the Cox Plate in 1932 and 1934, the Epsom Handicap in 1932 and 1933 and the Warwick Stakes in 1933 and 1934. His other dual win was the Hill Stakes in 1933 and 1934. Given those results, we will add that he won the Canterbury Stakes, the Caulfield Stakes, the All-Aged Stakes and the Doncaster Handicap “only” once.
Chatham was also a good sire, although none of his progeny was of his calibre, but his stud efforts produced 16 stakeswinners that produced 36 stakes wins, including wins in the Sydney Cup, the Adelaide Cup, the SAJC South Australian Derby and the Stradbroke Handicap.
Young Idea was the 1936 Linlithgow Stakes winner. Like Chatham, he won two Cox Plates, his coming in 1936 and 1937. Eight of his victories came in races that are now classified as Group 1, equal to Amounis. He would be eligible for immediate induction into the Pro Group Racing Hall of Fame for making 70 starts.
The winner of the race in 1937 and 1938 was Ajax. Ajax won the Cox Plate “only” once, but he owned the All Aged Stakes, the Memsie Stakes and the Underwood Stakes with three wins in each. He made 46 jumps and failed to place just one time. More details about Ajax can be found here:
The next three years gave us High Caste, although he was dead heated by Manrico in 1939. High Caste also won the C.B. Fisher Plate three times while making 72 starts for 35 wins and 26 placings. He won more major races than we care to mention, but a more complete biography will be found here:
Following High Caste’s 1941 win, the Linlithgow Stakes was not held from 1942 – 1944. Some sort of skirmish in Europe disrupted Australian racing.
When the race returned in 1945, Royal Gem was the winner. A couple of his major wins were the 1946 Caulfield Cup and the 1946 Toorak Handicap. Royal Gem was exported to the U.S., where he sired winners of more than a thousand races. One of his progeny was 1953 Kentucky Derby winner Dark Star. Another was Royal Bay Gem that ran fourth to Dark Star in the Kentucky Derby. Royal Bay Gem also ran third in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, the other two races of the American Triple Crown.
Prince Cortauld was the 1954 winner that between 1953 and 1955, won everything in sight. He was a New Zealand product trained by the legendary Maurice McCarten and ridden for 19 wins by Neville Sellwood.
Matrice was the two-time winner in 1956 and 1957.
Noholme was the 1959 winner making punters happy. Noholme was a smaller horse, but his heart was big enough to earn him 1959 Australian Horse of the Year honours. He won the Cox Plate that same year.
Sky High was the 1962 winner. He was the winner of 21 major races, including two Caulfield Stakes, two Lightning Stakes and two Warwick Stakes. From 55 starts, he recorded 29 wins and 19 placings. So versatile was Sky High that he remains the only horse to win the Golden Slipper Stakes and try the Melbourne Cup.
Next year, the winner was Wenona Girl. She made 68 starts for 27 wins and 26 placings. Fifteen of her wins were in races that would eventually be classified as Group 1 - Best Bets Today
Vain was the 1969 winner. Vain was the dominant sprinter in Australia from 1968 – 1970, winning 12 of 14 races and running second in the other two. He won the Golden Slipper Stakes in 1969 and sired two Golden Slipper winners in Inspired and Sir Dapper.
The years of 1972 through 1976 were interesting in that five Linlithgow Stakes were won by two horses.
All Shot was the winner in 1972 and 1973, while 1974 – 1976 went to Scamanda - TattsBet showing the best odds on the day.
All Shot earns our respect from having made 77 starts. His name is not as familiar as is some of the others on the winners list, but he won 21 races, many of which would become Group 1 in just a few years.
Scamanda was obviously good to win the race three times successively. Scamanda’s grandsire was Todman, which provides some insight.
Placid Ark was the 1987 winner. He was a solid galloper that won such races as the Newmarket Handicap, the A. J. Moir Stakes and the Oakleigh Plate.
The next two-time winner was Redelva in 1988 and 1990. He won almost $1.8 million and was victorious in such notable races as the Lightning Stakes, William Reid Stakes and three SAJC Spring Stakes.
In between the two wins by Redelva, Boardwalk Angel won in 1989. Not quite the galloper as some of the others, Boardwalk Angel was no slouch, either. Her biggest win was the Group 1 Goodwood Handicap.
1996 winner Mahogany won the big three-year-old staying races such as the Victoria Derby and the Australian Derby.
Fastnet Rock was the 2004 winner. According to Wikipedia, Fastnet Rock is a remote island in the Atlantic Ocean at the most southerly part or Ireland. We know better. Fastnet Rock won over $1.7 million that won two Group 1 races and finished second in another two. Those results are not typical for rocks in the Atlantic Ocean.
The next year went to Glamour Puss. This handy New Zealand mare won nine races with eight placings from 26 jumps.
Our last multiple winner was 2012 and 2013’s Fontelina. She beat Spirit Of Boom in 2012 and 2013. Spirit Of Boom was good enough to win the Group 1 William Reid Stakes, the Doomben 10,000 and the Caulfield Sprint and win over $2.2 million, so Fontelina was more than handy.
The rest of the winners were Deep Field (2014), Eclair Choice (2015) Illustrious Lad (2016), Rich Charm (2017) Osbourne Bulls (2018), Kemalpasa (2019 and 2020). That race can be seen here:
The Group 2 Linlithgow Stakes, or the TAB Stakes if we must, is an old and lustrous race. The list of winners is almost like the Thoroughbred inductee list of the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.
|Year||Linlithgow Stakes Winners|
|2003||Our Egyptian Raine|
|2001||Belle Du Jour|
|1964||Star Of Heaven|
|1925||The Night Patrol|
|1924||The Night Patrol|
|1923||Maid Of The Mist|
|1883||Brown And Rose|
|1875||The Marquis Colt|
|1869||Coeur De Lion|