REFLECTION ON THE DONCASTER
As a preamble
to our BMW Doncaster Mile Barrier Draw function on 17 April,
our good friend and NSWROA member, Mr Graham Caves, has kindly
prepared for the interest of members the following item.
* * * * *
Last autumn we had an amble through the
years of the Sydney Cup. It seems appropriate to do the same
While the former race has struggled to maintain
its relevance and the glory of its yesteryears, not so the
AJC, now ATC, has thrown its support and prizemoney into
this historic “mile” race and it now rates as
the most important and prestigious 1600m event in the country.
Doncaster was named after the famous racecourse in England,
as the Epsom was named after the iconic course in Surrey.
The mother country was the source of much of the naming
in the colony in the 1800s.
By the 1860s the racing clubs had
begun to organize and structure the Australian turf. The
need was seen to provide the populace,
most of which went racing on a regular basis, with contests
where the quality horses of the day could compete for big
prizes and engender betting, and therefore interest, well
before the race day, and thus pre-post doubles betting
was born. The Doncaster/Sydney Cup double was the big autumn
event in Sydney Town.
Both races were introduced in 1866.
The Doncaster boasted 70 sovereigns in prizemoney and the
Sydney Cup 200 sovereigns
and a gold cup of 150 sovereigns. How the worm has turned,
this year the Doncaster carries $2million and the Sydney
In 1866 interest ran high for the two new
races and the first Doncaster winner was the 4YO chestnut
Dundee. As he
was the hot 6/4 favourite “much joy was felt for his
win”. He was a good horse for he had also won the Epsom
the previous spring.
Three years later in 1869, Rafferty applied
his rules when the first and third across the line were
their jockeys having a stoush during the race. The second
horse Tippler became the winner and the fourth horse Blondin
was placed second. Nobody had noticed who ran fifth, so
no third placing was declared.
In 1876 the Doncaster was won
by the 2YO filly Briseis. Yes, a 2YO filly, but she was
no ordinary filly. Briseis also
won the All-Aged Stakes at that meeting and then, as a
3YO in the Melbourne spring, she took the Victoria Derby,
Cup and VRC Oaks in the one week.
Advance to 1888 and the
first big weight, 59.5 kgs, was carried to victory by Ben
Bolt. He also won a Caulfield Cup.
weight record didn’t last long. Four years later
the great miler Marvel carried 65.5 kgs to win. That record
stands today, although equalled by Chatham in 1934.
in 1893 and the imported Sir Foote in 1902 were Doncaster
winners destined for more success. Cremorne won
a Caulfield Cup and Sir Foote became a champion, though
short-lived, sire. Between them, in 1901 the immortal, and
some say still
the best, mare to race in Australia, 4YO Wakeful, won the
big mile at only her fifth start in a race. She had won
the Oakleigh Plate and Newmarket at her two previous runs
two days later ran third in the Sydney Cup. They did things
A little known but very good horse called
Famous won in 1905. He also won an Epsom. Quality mares
Istria and Julia Grey
won in 1907 and 1922 respectively and between them were
the prominent winners Jolly Beggar 1913 and Eurobin 1916.
of high class winners came from 1924 to 1926 in Whittier,
Fuji San and Valicare, the mare that took the racing world
by storm in 1926. In the golden era of Australian racing,
the 1930s, the Doncaster was won by a string of champions
and near champions.
Sir Christopher, an imported grey, won
in 1932 and the underrated Jacko in 1933 and then, in succession,
the iconic Randwick
mile was won by Winooka (63kgs), Chatham (65.5kgs, equalling
Marvel’s record weight carrying victory), Hall Mark
(61kgs) and the New Zealand champion mare Cuddle (59kgs).
Not far behind them in ability were the winners Sarcherie
and the near-forgotten Gold Rod in 1937 and 1939 respectively.
- One of Australia’s
greatest milers and Doncaster winner in 1933
The forties, including the war
years, were notable for the successes of the Randwick mile
specialists. Good horses all,
they lifted their game whenever they arrived on the spacious
mile course at “headquarters”, as Randwick was
known in those days, and added their name to the Doncaster
honour roll. Starting with Mildura in 1940/41, Tuhitarata,
Abbeville and then came the best of their ilk, Blue Legend
Blue Legend: The Randwick
mile specialist winning his first Doncaster in 1946
Grey Boots was a popular winner
in 1950 and in 1953 the sensation of the time came when Tommy
Smith’s 1953 winner, the
excellent imported mare Tarien was disqualified by a positive
doping test and the race given to the 100/1 second placegetter
Dual Doncaster winners Slogan II and Tudor
Hill came in that decade and Fine and Dandy did the same
his wins were separated by the bog-track winner Te Poi
in 1962. Other 1960s winners were Time and Tide, a brother
Fine and Dandy, who led all the way to just last under
Des Lake in 1965, the outstanding filly Citius in 1966 and
unforgettable performance of Tobin Bronze to win in 1967.
At the 300m mark the soon-to-be top class sprinter Cabochon,
with nothing on his back, had dashed clear. Tobin Bronze
with 59.5kgs to carry and six lengths behind, set out after
him and mowed him down to win on the post.
whose Doncaster win in 1967 was unforgettable
the 70s the race lost no caste with the quality of its
winners. Much underrated Rajah Sahib won in 1971 and the
year who could forget Gunsynd getting the better of the
New Zealand star Triton in 1972. Exceptionally good horses
and Dalrello won in 1974 and 1975 and the almost champion
mare Maybe Mahal in 1978. In 1979 Belmura Lad won for Mal
Barnes. It was a lucky victory for him as he was given
the horse just two days before the race when Bart Cummings
disqualified due to a positive drug test by one of his
horses in Melbourne.
A “quiet” period for the Doncaster
perhaps during the 80s but the win of the New Zealand mare
(My) Gold Hope
in 1982 and of Emancipation as a three-year-old filly with
54.5kgs in 1983 was a sight to behold. Hula Chief, perfectly
managed by Bart Cummings was a popular winner in 1986.
haven’t, and never will, see the like of Super Impose’s
extraordinary domination of the Randwick mile in 1990/91.
Trained in Melbourne by Lee Freedman, he was a top class
galloper before he performed these deeds but he is immortal
now. Super Impose won the Doncaster of 1990 with 57kgs then
won the Epsom later that year with 58.5kgs. The next year
he returned to win the 1991 Doncaster with 59.5kgs and did
the incredible by winning the Epsom six months later with
61kgs. That double double ranks with the greatest deeds ever
seen on the Australian turf.
Pharaoh’s dual Doncasters
in 1994 and 1995, trained by Gai Waterhouse, paled in comparison
but were meritorious
performances. Sunline rounded out the decade by winning her
first Doncaster in 1999 as a three-year-old.
Well into the
modern era now in our preamble for the great race, we come
to the new millennium and there is no need
to fear for the future of Randwick’s showcase 1600
metre event when its history can boast the likes of Sunline
winning her second Doncaster when fighting off the brave
and talented Shogun Lodge in 2002.
Great mare Sunline
outlasts a brave Shogun Lodge in the Doncaster of 2002
(Photo courtesy of Grant Guy – 0410 067 241)
Grand Armee was a deserving winner in 2003 as was the John
O’Shea trained star mare Private Steer
in 2004. That trainer has an affinity with the race as his
high class little horse Racing to Win won in 2006. Set for
international fame the brilliant but erratic Haradasun speared
off his planned trajectory in the final 250m but stayed in
front in 2007. In 2010 former New Zealand trainer Chris Waller
sealed the success of his move to Rosehill by getting the
honest and highly talented Rangirangdoo home to loud applause
as a crowd favourite.
Racing To Win: The outstanding
winner of the Doncaster in 2006
(Photo courtesy of Grant Guy – 0410 067 241)
the recently retired Sacred Choice, a very capable mare
but a superb mud-runner who was also successful over
the mile in the Group 1 VRC Myer Classic and the Group
2 AJC Emancipation Stakes, enjoyed the downpour and romped
home to win the Doncaster of 2011.
What a race it is and what
a history it has!