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The AJC Australian Derby

Randwick Race Track

  • Date: April
  • Prize Money: $1,300,000
  • Distance: 2,400m
  • Venue: Randwick Races
  • Type: 3YO Set Weight
  • Race Odds: Sportsbet | LuxBet

The AJC Australian Derby is a race that is rich in history. This Group 1 race was first held in 1861 and was then known as the AJC Randwick Derby Stakes. The initial race was won by Kyogle, the grandson of legendary British race horse Touchstone. The race would undergo several name changes and in 1865, it was renamed to the AJC Australia Derby Stakes. That year, the race was won by Clove.

In 1873, the race’s name was once again changed to the AJC Derby and it was known as such until 1993. During the first year of this new name, Benvolio won the race. In its last year, Innocent King won the race. Innocent King was trained by Kerry Jordan and was ridden that day by jockey Jimmy Cassidy. Innocent King won the race with the time of 2 minutes, 33.60 seconds.

In 1994, the race was officially known as the AJC Australian Derby and the race was won that year by the Lee Freedman-trained Mahogany. For that race, Mahogany’s jockey is Greg Hall and their partnership finished the race at 2 minutes, 36.50 seconds. Though its current official name is the AJC Australian Derby, horse racing veterans still refer to it as the AJC Derby.

Despite the name changes, the AJC Australian Derby was held nowhere else but at the Randwick Racecourse in Sydney. This set weights race is exclusive for three-year-old horses and is conducted by late March or early April. According to the Australian Jockey Club, this race is the main event for three-year-old horses in Australia and New Zealand and it has a prize purse of AUD$1.8 million.

The race had an original distance of 1 ½ miles but it was adjusted to 2,400 metres in 1972 following the introduction of the metric system in Australia. During the first year of the metric system-based AJC Australian Derby, Gold Brick won the race. At the current distance of 2,400 metres, 1996 winner Octagonal has the fastest winning time with 2 minutes, 28.41 seconds.

Throughout the years, the AJC Australian Derby has its share of setbacks. In 1928, records show that Prince Humphrey won the race. However, the horse did not participate at all and the real winner is Cragsman. Toowoomba’s Dick Tate noticed the error when he realized that it was not Prince Humphrey that won when he saw a picture of the race winner.

From 1932 to 1956, geldings were not allowed to compete at the AJC Australian Derby. In 1978, the race was not held for the schedule of the race was changed from spring to autumn. Thus, 1977 race winner Belmura Lad is the last race horse to win the AJC Australian Derby under its spring schedule. Meanwhile, Dulcify won the first race under the autumn schedule in the time of 2 minutes, 30.70 seconds. Dulcify won the race with jockey Brett Thomson and trainer Colin Hayes.

Over the years, a number of legendary Australian horse racing thoroughbreds have won the race including Tulloch, Kingston Town and Phar Lap. Phar Lap won the race in 1929 while Tulloch took home the top prize in 1957. Kingston Town did the same feat in 1980. There have been two draws in AJC Australian Derby Stakes history. Richmond Main and Artilleryman raced to a tie in 1919 while Homer and Alunga were also declared co-winners in 1935.

Though the race is more than a century old, no race horse has won back-to-back AJC Australian Derby races. No horse has even won the race more than once. However, Thomas Hales is the most successful jockey in the race’s history by winning the race six times. He won with Richmond in 1875, Grand Flaneur in 1880, Navigator in 1882, Bargo in 1884, Trident in 1886 and Abercorn in 1887. Hales and Trident holds the record for the biggest winning margin at ten lengths.

With no race horse winning more than once, it shows the competitiveness of the participants of the AJC Australian Derby. Given the race distance and the number of opposition, winning the race more than once can be difficult. This race has also become a good barometer for eventual winners of the Caulfield Cup.

Those who would like to participate in the AJC Australian Derby will have their horses tune-up at the 2000-metre, Group 1 Rosehill Guineas and the 2000-metre, Group 2 Tulloch Stakes. The Rosehill Guineas is held two weeks before the AJC Derby while the Tulloch Stakes happens the week before. The distance of the two races and their schedule are ideal for preparation.

In the 2000 AJC Australian Derby, Fairway won the race in 2 minutes, 34 seconds with Shogun Lodge and Now Voyager finishing at second and third place respectively. At the 2001 edition, Universal Prince went on to take home the crown in 2 minute, 30.8 seconds. Finishing behind Universal Prince is Sir Clive while coming in at third is Danamite.

In 2002, Don Eduardo won with the time of 2 minutes, 32.7 seconds while Carnegie Express and Pentastic finished in second and third place respectively. At the 2003 AJC Australian Derby, Clangalang won the race in 2 minutes, 32.3 seconds with Strasbourg finishing in second place while Mummify came in at third. In 2004, Starcraft took home the top honours in 2 minutes, 34.8 seconds. Finishing at second place is Braeloch while Delzao took third place.

In 2005, Eremein won the AJC Australian Derby in 1 minute, 29.5 seconds while Stella Granda and Railings won second and third place respectively. At the 2006 AJC Australian Derby, Headturner showed a grand display by winning the race in 2 minutes, 29.9 seconds. He was chased by De Beers which finished second and Testifiable which finished third.

Flumicino won the 2007 edition of the race in 2 minutes, 36.4 seconds. Second place went to Ambitious General while the third place went to Tuesday Joy. In 2008, Nome de Jeu grabbed the top spot in 2 minutes, 36.2 seconds while Red Ruler and Littorio crossed the finish line in second and third place respectively.

The 2009 edition was won by Roman Emperor in the time of 2 minutes, 31 seconds. Harris Tweed finished in second place Predatory Pricer took home third place. The 2010 AJC Australian Derby was won by Shootout in 2 minutes, 32.6 seconds while carrying betting odds of 4.80. Shootout was navigated by jockey Stathi Katsidis for the victory.

At second place is Descarado with betting odds of 7.50 and he finished 1 ¼ lengths behind Shootout. Finishing the 2010 AJC Australian Derby in third place is Monaco Consul with betting odds of 12.00. Jockey Damien Oliver guided the 56.5-kilogram race horse which finished a neck behind Descarado.

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