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The Doncaster Handicap
The Doncaster Handicap is one of the oldest handicap races in Australian Horse Racing History. It was first staged in 1866 and was won by Dundee. A year before, Dundee has won the Epsom Handicap, making him the first race horse to score an Epsom Handicap-Doncaster Handicap double. Since then, the race has become one of the most sought after handicap races in Australia.
See our Five Page Special On The Doncaster Mile.
Just like the Epsom Handicap, this race has a distance of 1600 metres and is participated by race horses of at least three years of age. Also known as the Doncaster Mile, the race has a current prize pool of $1.5 million and its schedule has changed over the years. In yesteryears, the Doncaster Handicap was held every Easter Monday but its schedule has shifted to the third Saturday in April.
The Doncaster Handicap is held at the start of the peak season for Australian horse racing and this race has been contested at the Randwick Racecourse. However, the race was held at Rosehill Races in 1942 for the Australian army took control of Randwick for their military operations. During that year, Tuhitarata won the race.
The Doncaster Handicap is often used as a gauge by trainers for another handicap race, the Epsom Handicap. Since the two races have the same distance, they Doncaster Handicap serves as a tune-up race for the Epsom Handicap and many race horses have won both races. Due to its distance, the race favors horses that excel in middle-distance races.
In 1990 and 1991, Super Impose became first thoroughbred to achieve the Doncaster Handicap-Epsom Handicap double in multiple years. The race also had its share of controversy in 1871 when Sir William and Lottery raced to a draw. From then on, the Doncaster Handicap has become a hotly contested race among top middle-distance gallopers.
Throughout the history of the Doncaster Handicap, a lot of race horses have won the race more than twice. Mildura first did it in 1940 and 1941 and his feat was copied by Blue Legend in 1946 and 1947. Slogan II also won in 1956 and 1957 while Tudor Hill also did the same in 1959 and 1960. Fine and Dandy won in 1961 and 1963 while Super Impose won the Doncaster Handicaps of 1990 and 1991.
Pharaoh also won back-to-back Doncaster Handicaps in 1994 and 1995 while Sunline is the latest horse to win multiple Doncaster Handicaps when he won the race in 1999 and 2002. To prepare for the Doncaster Handicap, jockeys and horse trainers participate in the 1500-metre, Group 1 George Ryder Stakes wherein three of the four latest winners went on through this route.
In the 1988 Doncaster Handicap, Lygon Arms won the race in 1 minute, 37.2 seconds with Sound Horizon and Our Waverly Star finishing at second and third place respectively. At the 1989 Doncaster, Merimbula Bay went on to take home the crown in 1 minute, 34.7 seconds. Finishing behind him is Tjarra while coming in at third is Lygon Arms.
In 1990, Super Impose won his first Doncaster Handicap with a time of 1 minute, 38.4 seconds while Shaftesbury Avenue and Our Grey Invader finished in second and third place respectively. At the 1991 Doncaster Handicap, Super Impose achieved the double in 1 minute, 36.5 seconds with Royal Creation finishing in second place while Shaftesbury Avenue came in at third. The 1992 Doncaster Handicap saw Soho Square take home the top honours in 1 minute, 35.7 seconds. Finishing at second place is Old Role while Prince Sallieri took third place.
In 1993, Skating won the Doncaster Handicap in 1 minute, 34 seconds and he denied Soho Square of back-to-back victories. Finishing at third place is Gifted Poet. At the 1994 Doncaster Handicap, Pharaoh showed his supremacy by winning the race in 1 minute, 38.2 seconds over second place Kingston Bay and third place Telesto.
Pharaoh won his second Doncaster Handicap in 1995 in 1 minute, 38 seconds. Second place went to Aunty Mary while the third place went to Brave Warrior. In 1996, Sprint By grabbed the top spot in 1 minute, 35.4 seconds while Danasinga and Juggler crossed the finish line in second and third place respectively.
In the 1997 Doncaster Handicap, Secret Savings won the race in 1 minute, 35.5 seconds with All Our Mob and Ravarada finishing at second and third place respectively. In 1998, Catalan Opening won the race in 1 minute, 38 seconds. Finishing behind him is Juggler while coming in at third is Iron Horse. Sunline, Lease and Juggler took home the first, second and third places of the 1999 Doncaster Handicap.
In the first Doncaster Handicap of the 21st century, Over denied Sunline of back-to-back Doncaster Handicaps when he won with the time of 1 minute, 35 seconds. Zastov finished in third place. At the 2001 Doncaster Handicap, Assertive Lad won in 1 minute, 35.9 seconds with Shogun Lodge finishing in second place while Weasel Will came in at third.
Sunline’s second Doncaster Handicap victory came in 2002 with a time of 1 minute, 35.2 seconds. Shogun Lodge once again finished in second place while Defier took third place. Grand Armee won the 2003 Doncaster Handicap in 1 minute, 36.8 seconds. At second is Dash for Cash while Boreale came in at third place.
In 2004, Private Steer won the Doncaster Handicap in 1 minute, 35.5 seconds. Grand Armee was denied of back-to-back Doncaster Handicaps when he finished second while Ambulance finished in third. At the 2005 Doncaster Handicap, Patezza dominated the opposition by winning the race in 1 minute, 35.9 seconds over second place Court’s In Session and third place Danni Martine.
Racing to Win won the 2006 Doncaster Handicap in 1 minute, 34.1 seconds. Second place went to Johan’s Toy while Bentley Biscuit finished third. In 2007, the Doncaster Handicap went to Hardasun in 1 minute, 38 seconds while Mentality and Divine Madonna crossed the finish line in second and third place respectively.
Triple Honour claimed the 2008 Doncaster Handicap in 1 minute, 38.6 seconds. Second place went to Casino Prince while Pinnacles finished third. The 2009 edition was won by Vision and Power in the time of 1 minute, 36.6 seconds. Black Piranha finished in second place while Whobegotyou took home third place.
The 2010 Doncaster Handicap was won by Rangirangdoo in 1 minute, 34.2 seconds while crossing the line half a neck behind Rangirangdoo is Road to Rock. Third place went to Brilliant Light which finished a length and a half behind Road to Rock.