Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes History
The Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes is a Group 1 quality sprint race run over 1400 metres at Caulfield in September during the Spring Carnival.
The 1400m race allows for a maximum field of 18 runners and is usually run at a frantic pace. With prizemoney of $500,000, the race has a weight limit of 52kgs with the higher rated horses carrying up to 58kgs.
The race, first run in 1951 and won by Jovial Lad, was initially known as the Invitation Stakes. It had a name change in 2006 to honour the late Sir Rupert Clarke for his services as chairman of the Melbourne Racing Club, formerly known as the Victoria Amateur Turf Club (VATC).
A lot of trainers use the Sir Rupert Clarke as a lead-up into bigger events like the Group 1 Toorak Handicap over 1600 metres. Others target races like the Group 2 Waterford Crystal Mile run at Moonee Valley and the Group 1 Kennedy Mile, run at Flemington on the Saturday prior to the Melbourne Cup.
Although used as a lead-up race in itself, the Sir Rupert Clarke does have lead-up races of its own that impact greatly on the outcome of the sprint.
The Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) run in late August at Caulfield is a good lead-up with 2015 third placegetter Stratum Star winning the Rupert Clarke four weeks later. In 2014, Memsie winner Dissident finished second in the Rupert Clarke.
Two other races used as lead-ups are the Bobby Lewis Quality Handicap (1200m) and the Let’s Elope Stakes (1400m) both at Group 2 level.
Both races are run on Makybe Diva Stakes day at Flemington, one week prior to the Rupert Clarke.
Some great horses have etched their name onto the honours list for this event. Horses such as the mighty Manikato (1978), Rancho Ruler (1988), St Jude (1981), the great sire Encosta Del Lago (1996) and Testa Rossa, who claimed back-to-back victories in 1999 and 2000.