Epsom Handicap History

Racingbase Staff in Epsom Handicap 20 Feb 2020
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The Epsom Handicap is a major drawcard during the Sydney Spring Carnival and is run at Randwick in early October each year.

The Epsom Handicap is a Group 1 race run over the famous 1600m and carries prizemoney of $1 million.

It is one of three Group 1 races held on what has come to be known as “Super Saturday”, with The Metropolitan and the Flight Stakes being the other two elite races on the same program.

The race was named in tribute of the great Epsom Downs racetrack in England which hosts the English Derby each year.

The Epsom attracts many of the top class milers and up and coming three-year-old hopefuls and is recognised as one of the biggest 1600m handicaps along with the Group 1 Doncaster Mile run during the Autumn Carnival in Sydney.

The race has an interesting history since the inaugural running of the race in 1865 saw Dundee salute. Then, the following year as Dundee finished in third place, the race ended in a dead heat when Rapidan and Bracelet crossed the line together. The two dead heaters then had a race-off which saw Rapidan eventually deemed the winner.

In 1897, an 11-year-old Jim McHugh, who weighed in at just four stone and four pounds (or 27 kgs), was having just his second ever race ride when he steered Robin Hood to victory, even though he was obliged to carry the minimum weight of six stone, nine pounds (or 42 kgs).

Many great horses have tasted victory in the Epsom including Amounis in 1926 and 1928 before he went on to win the 1930 Caulfield Cup. Others include Gunsynd (1971), Triton (1972), Imposing (1979) and in more recent times Desert War (2004 & 2005), Boban (2014) and the mighty Winx in 2015, who then went on to claim the Cox Plate three weeks later.

Without doubt, the most memorable winner of the Epsom was the great Super Impose who did what no other horse has ever done by winning the Epsom/Doncaster double in successive years in 1990 and 1991.

The most prominent races used as lead-ups to the Epsom are the Group 2 Shannon Stakes (1500m) run at Rosehill in September and the Group 3 Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m) run at Randwick the week before the Epsom.

Although a weight-for-age event, the Group 1 George Main Stakes run on the same day as the Bill Ritchie is also used by some Epsom hopefuls.

Gai Waterhouse leads the successful trainers in the event with seven victories to date, a feat only matched by her father, the late Tommy Smith.