Forget the Melbourne Cup, the culmination of Sydney’s Autumn Racing Carnival, simply titled The Championships, is the richest racing series in Australia.
First run in 2014, The Championships features eight Group 1 races across two Saturdays in April, with a massive $21 Million in prize money on offer at Royal Randwick.
Billed as the “Grand Final” of Sydney racing, the best events from the Sydney autumn were scooped up by Randwick to showcase the best racing has to offer over a two week period.
The Doncaster Mile (1600m) is the key event on day one, while the Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m), Australian Derby (2400m) and TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) makes up the other G1 on the card.
On day two, the $4 million Group One Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) – Australia’s richest weight for age race – is the key event. The Australian Oaks (2400m), Queen of the Turf Stakes (1600m) and Sydney Cup (3200m) bring round out the final day.
Racing New South Wales Chief Executive Officer Peter V’Landys said The Championships are “the pinnacle” of Australian horse racing.
“Realistically, it is a grand final,” V’Landy’s said.
“In every sporting event, the pinnacle of that event, of that sport, is its grand final.
“The AFL has the highest ratings and the highest attendance at the grand final of the AFL.
“The NRL, same thing; whatever competition you have, the grand final is the pinnacle.
“We have all the sports against us, but what we have that the other states don’t have is the capacity to have it as the grand final.
“That’s what’s important to us, and that’s what we’re going to build on.
The Best Online Horse Racing Sites To Bet With
The Championships is one of Australia’s favourite thoroughbred racing events and the punters aren’t shy when it comes to investing.
The bookies have to be on their toes when it comes to The Championships, which means promotions will be coming at us thick and fast across the fortnight.
We’ve done the hard work for you in terms of reviewing Australia’s best bookies so you can make an informed decision before you open your wallet.
The Championships Bookmakers
The face of the Australian online sports betting market, Sportsbet is renowned for the widest selection of markets across a variety of sports and racing, both locally and internationally. Sportsbet provides markets for all the major races across The Championships and typically offer promotions for both days.
Ladbrokes has forged its way into the Australian market by acquiring other local online bookies, like Bookmaker.com.au and Neds.com.au. One of the biggest betting agencies in the world, Ladbrokes offers a full range of markets on The Championships, with futures markets giving you the opportunity to lay a bet well before the event.
If Samuel L Jackson tells you to do something, you should probably do it. Similar to the Sportsbet crew, these guys are master marketers. And they love to have the movie star spruik their wide variety of racing markets. Bet365 has the world at its feet, but that doesn’t mean they neglect The Championships.
The Championships Race Guide
You can’t have a marquee racing event with that sort of prize money without a huge truncheon of top quality races, featuring some of the strongest fields in the world.
Here’s a run down of some of the feature races throughout the event.
Queen Elizabeth Stakes – The Weight for Age Championship
The richest weight for age race in Australia, The Queen Elizabeth Stakes is worth $4 million in prize money.
Raced over 2000 metres, the event was first run way back in 1851 and was once called the Queens Plate, but had its name changed in 1954 to mark the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to our shores. The best gallopers to ever race in the country have won this race, headlined by the superstar Tulloch, which took it out three times – 1958 and then back to back in 1960 and 1961. Superstar mare Winx will be looking to emulate Tulloch’s record in 2019 after winning the race back-to-back in 2017 and ’18.
2018 Winner: Winx
Doncaster Mile – the Mile Championship
The Doncaster Mile is the top event on day one of The Championships and is arguably the most famous race on the NSW circuit.
First run in 1866, the best mile horses in the world converge on Royal Randwick for the running of this prestigious race. There’s a reason why the horse that wins this event is considered the Southern Hemisphere’s premier miler.
2018 Winner: Happy Clapper
TJ Smith Stakes – The Open Sprint Championship
It takes a lot of endeavour to win the 1200m TJ Smith Stakes and that’s probably why it was once known as the Endeavour Stakes.
This is a relatively young race, first contested in 1997. The event is run in honour of legendary Sydney trainer Thomas John Smith, who won the Sydney Trainers’ Championship a ridiculous 34 times and boasts an amazing 279 group one winners.
Black Caviar – perhaps the greatest Australian sprinter of all time – is a winner of the race, that attracts the fastest horses in the world. It was Black Caviar’s last ever race, the mare setting a record that will take some serious beating. Another cult hero to win the race is the grey flash Chauataqua, who has tasted success in the TJ a record three-straight times.
2018 Winner: Trapeze Artist
Australian Derby – The three year old Classic Championship
Once known as the AJC Derby, The Australian Derby’s new name reflects its national standing as the best race for three year olds in the country. The Derby has been run and won since 1861, making it one of the oldest Group 1s as part of The Championships.
The Derby is steeped in history, with the likes of superstar all time great Phar Lap (1929), Peter Pan (1932), Tulloch (1957), Kingston Town (1980), Bonecrusher (1986) and Octagonal (1996) claiming the spoils of this rich race.
2018 Winner: Levendi
Sires’ Produce Stakes – The two year old Championship
The first ever Sires’ Produce was way back in 1867 and the race is still going strong today. The likes of Octagonal (1995), Luskin Star (1977) and Ajax (1937) have stormed home to take victory in this legendary race.
The Sires’ Produce is the second leg of what is known as Sydney’s two year old triple crown. That triumvirate is made up of the two group ones, the Golden Slipper and the Champagne Stakes. Only six horses have completed the triple crown, with Pierro the most recent In 2012.
2018 Winner: El Dorado Dreaming
Sydney Cup – The Stayers Championship
Royal Randwick’s answer to the Melbourne Cup might not quite stop the nation, but it is still one of the most thrilling long distance races on the Australian calendar.
The 3200m race is a test of both jockey and mount and is the only other group 1 race over that distance in the country. A select few horses can handle the two mile trip, among those the great Makybe Diva (2004), Carbine, which went back to back in 1889 and 1890, Galilee (1967), Kingston Town (1980) and another back to back winner in Tie the Knot.
2018 Winner: Who Shot Thebarman
Australian Oaks – The three year old Fillies Classic Championship
Light Fingers is perhaps the most revered winner of this popular race for three year olds, way back in 1965, but a host of great thoroughbreds have been first past the post after the 2400m trip.
Only the best three year old fillies can stand this 2400m test, with it being known as the pinnacle event of its kind in the country.
2018 Winner: Unforgotten
Queen of the Turf Stakes – The Fillies and Mares Championship
Every owner wants their female galloper to be the Queen of the Turf and this race makes it official.
Ran over 1600m, The Queen of the Turf Stakes is a battle of the best of the best fillies and mares.
First run in 1972, the race was once a handicap event held at Rosehill Gardens over 1500m. But it became a handicap race in 2005, attracting better fields, and was later moved to Royal Randwick and extended to 1600m in 2014 to be part of the inaugural running of The Championships.
2018 Winner: Alizee