The Caulfield Guineas is one of the most prestigious races on the Australian calendar, and is considered by many to be the most significant three-year-old race in the country. As with many Australian races it has an extensive history, and it all begins back in 1881.
The early days
The Caulfield Guineas’ history began in the late 19th century, when a horse called Wheatear took out the inaugural edition of the event. The race was run over a mile and kicked off what would ultimately become an incredibly significant race, with many winners going on to have brilliant careers.
Unlike many other Australian races, the initial incarnations of the Caulfield Guineas saw very little change – the distance remained the same, and at least for the most part, the race took place at Caulfield Racecourse. The only period during which this changed was during World War II – from 1940 up until 1943, it was held at Flemington Racecourse, but quickly moved back to Caulfield thereafter.
The increased significance
As the 20th century ticked into its second half, a number of horses began doing what had previously never been done before – winning both the Caulfield Guineas and the Cox Plate in the same year. Star Affair was the first to do it in 1965, before Rajah Sahib followed three years later in 1968. Surround became the first and only filly to do it in 1976, and Red Anchor completed a quartet of horses to achieve the impressive feat within a span of 20 years in 1984.
The quality of horses winning the race during this period was very high, with other talented colts, geldings and fillies to get the job done around that time including Vain, Luskin Star as well as the champion sprinter Manikato. The race subsequently became a Group 1 in 1979, solidifying its position as one of the most significant races on the Australian calendar.
The modern day Caulfield Guineas
Since then the race has continued to develop, and it has become commonplace for winners to go on to have terrific careers on the racecourse. Since the turn of the century, winners include 11-time Group 1 winner Lonhro, seven-time Group 1 winner Weekend Hustler, as well as Whobetgotyou and Starspangledbanner.
However, perhaps what the race has become even more well-known for is the huge value as sires which winners go on to have. Given the horses are just three years of age, the race has become one of the best indicators of future success as a sire, and the Caulfield Guineas has developed a tag as a ‘stallion-making’ race as a result.
Winning the Caulfield Guineas alone, however, is a significant achievement in itself, regardless of whether the horse goes on to become a valuable sire. The prize pool is evidence of this, with a whopping $2 million prize pool on offer for the top eight horses, of which the winner collects $1.2 million. This is significantly less than the top couple of races in Victoria, such as the Melbourne Cup and the Caulfield Cup, but nonetheless it makes the Caulfield Guineas the fourth highest paying race in the state, and it’s safe to say is substantially more than what was on offer way back in 1881 when it all began.
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