In October every year, the cream of Australia’s horse racing industry comes together for the Caulfield Cup, which is the perfect curtain-raiser to the Melbourne Cup held 16 days later. The Melbourne Racing Club Group 1 Thoroughbred race occurs over 2400 metres and is open to thoroughbred horses aged three years or older.
The prize purse of $3 million makes the Caulfield Cup one of the richest thoroughbred races in Australia and allows it to claim the title of the richest 2,400-metre race in the world. The winner takes home $1.75 million and even the 10th horse to cross the line brings in $75,000.
The Cup takes place at Melbourne’s Caulfield Racecourse and this year it will occur on Saturday 21 October.
The Caulfield Cup was first run in 1879 by the Victoria Amateur Turf Club and has been held 140 times. Yes, those mathematics do not quite add up. That’s because the race was held twice when the Cup moved from Autumn to Spring in 1881, then it was held twice again in 1943 due to the large number of entries. Incidentally, it wasn’t even held at Caulfield for those races in 1943 because the Cup temporarily moved to Flemington to make room for an army base during World War II.
The most successful trainer in the history of the Caulfield Cup was Bart Cummings with seven wins, the first in 1966 with Galilee and the last with Viewed in 2009. The most successful jockey was Scobie Breasley, who rode first across the line five times, closely followed by the legendary Damien Oliver who did it four times. The title of unluckiest trainer easily goes to George Halon, who three times trained the horse that finished second by a close margin.
In 1998, the Caulfield Cup was opened to foreign horses, with the English thoroughbred Taufans Melody taking out the title. Since then, the only foreign winners have been All The Good from England in 2008 and Admire Rakti from Japan in 2014.
One of the biggest changes in the history of the Caulfield Cup could take place this year, with the Melbourne Racing Club announcing that it plans to shift the race from handicap to weight-for-age conditions. Handicap is the same conditions as the Melbourne Cup, in which each horse carries a weight based on factors such as their win record and the amount of prize money they have accrued. Weight-for-age is the system employed by the Cox Plate and means the weight attached to each horse is based on factors such as their age, sex, the race distance and the month of the year.
The prize purse will also likely be increased to $4 million. The changes are expected to attract a smaller field of elite horses, with more international entries. Melbourne Racing Club chairman Mike Symons said: “If we are going to increase international competition, we need to evolve. The distance is internationally recognised as the elite distance for good horses but almost every other jurisdiction conducts those races at weight for age.”