Randwick, NSW / 2000m / Race 7
Saturday, April 14 at 3:05pm

Queen Elizabeth Stakes:


The Betting:

Knowledge & Insight

All the talk and hype will justifiably be centred on Winx in the lead-up to the 2018 Queen Elizabeth and it’ll be interesting to observe what odds she’ll start.

Successful at $1.12 last year, it’s doubtful that she’ll reach the 1/9 odds that Tulloch did in the 1958 Queen Elizabeth when the 3yo defeated just three rivals on day four of the AJC Autumn Carnival.

This was Tulloch’s third success in a week at the Carnival, Tommy Smith’s freakish colt scoring by 20 lengths in the AJC St Leger (14f) on day one, then on day three (Wednesday) he tackled the WFA All Aged Stakes over a mile, and again scaring off his rivals, scored at 1/3f in a field of four.

Overall, 28 favourites have saluted in the 64 editions of the race -despite this impressive stat, there are some curiously unnerving stats for odds-on favourites since the race was reduced to 2000m in 1979 – the Verdict will pick apart this trend on Friday.

Form Focus Verdict

There’s been one other Queen Elizabeth winner as short as Tulloch (1/9) in 1958 – that was 1968 winner General Command who also started at 1/9.

The General had only 5 days earlier careered away with the Sydney Cup by 6 lengths (under 9.3) and met just three opponents in the Queen Elizabeth, again serving up a six-length pounding.

Yet, while “graveyard” is hardly worthy of describing the performance of odds-on favourites in the Queen Elizabeth, the records do reflect the race as a death-trap for some:

Odds-On Favourites – 31 starters: 14 wins, 8 seconds, 4 thirds, 5 unplaced

In reality, more get beaten than win – so whether the odds-makers are tempted to risk Winx in tomorrow’s race is debatable – it certainly made no difference to the great mare last year when $1.12.

Since the race has been run over 2000m, (aside from Winx), the 5 shortest priced favourites have all been beaten:

(2013): It’s a Dundeel – $1.28 (Second)
(2004): Lonhro – $1.26 (Second)
(1999): Sunline –1/2 (Fifth)
(1989): Beau Zam – 4/6 (Third)
(1987): Our Waverley Star – 2/9 (Fifth)


Knowledge & Insight

It’s possible that Winx’s presence will reduce the field size to less than double figures in this year’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes (a field of 9 faced the starter last year).

It’s not uncommon for the Queen Elizabeth to have a smallish roll-up, with 25 of the 39 runnings conducted over 2000m at WFA (since 1979) failing to attract 10 or more starters.

As a consequence, barrier spots are pretty much irrelevant over the 2000m at Randwick, although amazingly barrier nine is yet to salute – not just since 1979, but in the entire 63-year history of the race.

Form Focus Verdict

The undesirable barrier 9 has gone the way of last week’s Doncaster winner Happy Clapper for this year’s Queen Elizabeth.

Glamour mare Winx starts from barrier 10, successful just the once in the 39 runnings over the distance of 2000m – Lucia Valentina (2016).


Knowledge & Insight

First conducted in 1954, it took 15 years before a mare could land the Queen Elizabeth, Bart Cummings’ Lowland backing up five days after defeating the reigning Melbourne Cup winner Rain Lover in the 1969 Sydney Cup over two miles.

The two clashed again in the 14 furlongs Queen Elizabeth at WFA, this time Rain Lover meeting Lowland on ten pounds (5kg) better terms for a length margin in the Sydney Cup.

Defying the weight swing Lowland cruised home by 3 lengths, (again with Roy Higgins on board), defeating Roman Consul, with Rain Lover (a 9/10 favourite) a further length away third.

Since 1969, a further 7 mares have landed the Queen Elizabeth, Winx bolting in last year, while Lucia Valentina scored an emphatic victory in her preferred soft ground in 2016.

Form Focus Verdict

This will be just the seventh time that a mare has started outright favourite in Queen Elizabeth history, the record-book showing that Winx (2017) & More Joyous (2012) kept favourite punters happy.

In 2014, Silent Achiever was fourth as $4 favourite, while the other three were all odds-on and got rolled – Tuesday Joy (2008), Sunline (1999) & Leilani (1975).


Knowledge & Insight

The origins and evolution of the Queen Elizabeth Stakes are interesting, not least the first ever edition of the race.

A Quality Handicap over 12 furlongs (2400m), the race was first conducted on February 6, 1954 and was conceived to coincide with the tour of Australia by the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II.

Her Majesty attended the Randwick “Royal” meeting and presented the Queen Elizabeth Stakes trophies to the winning horse’s connections.

Despite two of Australia’s best horses of the fifties, Hydrogen & Carioca, running in the race, it was a 33/1 longshot called Blue Ocean who carried the limit weight of seven stone and led all the way, running the opposition off its legs.

Ridden by Arthur Podmore (elder brother of 1956 Melbourne Cup winning jockey George), Blue Ocean won by over 2 lengths and equalled the Australasian record for 12 furlongs (2400m).

A former sire of polo ponies and a regular on the picnic-racing circuit, Blue Ocean was prepared by Sydney-based Harry Darwon.

Darwon was reportedly so confident of winning the race that he showed a group of Randwick trainers at Thursday trackwork how he would bow to Her Majesty when presented with his trophy.

Much to the mirth of on-lookers at the presentation, Darwon was so excited at meeting the Queen, that he bowed not once, but three times.

Now a WFA race over 2000m, the Queen Elizabeth has predominantly been at WFA but has had several distance changes, first being lengthened to 14 furlongs (2800m) in 1955, then reduced to 12 furlongs (2400m) in the seventies before stabilising at 2000m in 1979.

Form Focus Verdict

Somewhat frustrated by small fields during the sixties, the AJC elected to revert to Quality Handicap conditions for the 1970 Queen Elizabeth.

Who knows, this move may’ve been made to coincide with another Royal Tour of Australia, the Queen and Princess Anne guests of the AJC to present the winner’s trophy at Randwick.

Reminiscent of the upset result of 1954, 80/1 outsider Panvale became the longest-priced winner in the race’s history, scoring easily by two lengths in a field of 14.

Panvale was ridden by 19yo apprentice Peter Cook, son of one of Sydney’s finest riders in Billy Cook, winner of two Melbourne Cups and six Sydney jockey’s premierships.

After dismounting, Peter was heard saying to his father, “well, I’m one up on you now Dad”, Bill being unplaced on even-money favourite Carioca in the inaugural Queen Elizabeth of 1954.

His father replied, “yes son, you are; and it will not be long before you win the Melbourne Cup”.

Not a bad judge was Billy Cook, Peter riding two Melbourne Cup winners (1981 & 1984).

As for the AJC, well, they elected to restore WFA conditions for the 1971 Queen Elizabeth, and with normality regained, Gay Icarus beat five others as 10/9 favourite.




Knowledge & Insight

Chris Waller has again elected to go from the George Ryder into the Queen Elizabeth with Winx, this pattern working successfully for the mare last year. Three other Queen Elizabeth winners have used the Ryder since 2009 – Pompeii Ruler (2009), Reliable Man (2013, and also prepared by Waller) & Criterion (2015).

Over the past 20 years, 6 Queen Elizabeth winners have contested The BMW, the same number contesting either the Ranvet Stakes and/or the Doncaster Handicap, so this sample hardly provides a definitive guide.

Should Winx win her eighteenth Group One in the Queen Elizabeth, she will also join the invincible Black Caviar on 25 consecutive wins.

Form Focus Verdict

The first time the Queen Elizabeth was conducted over 2000m at WFA (1979), the race fell to top-class NZ stayer Shivaree, trained by Dave O’Sullivan and ridden by Roger Lang. Shivaree started odds on after winning the Tancred in his final lead-up run.

Two years later and O’Sullivan used the identical formula for his mare My Blue Denim, the 1980 Melbourne Cup runner-up also claiming the Tancred-Queen Elizabeth double.

The Doncaster-Queen Elizabeth double (Happy Clapper trying for this) was first collected by the Tommy Smith-trained Iko in the previous year and it took a further 32 years until a horse replicated Iko – the Gai Waterhouse-trained mare More Joyous (2012).

Eight other Doncaster winners went to the Queen Elizabeth with three finishing second and one coming in third. Interestingly, 9 Queen Elizabeth winners had contested (but not won) the Doncaster, so all is not lost for Humidor & Comin’ Through.


Knowledge & Insight

Of the present-day jockeys, Damien Oliver has the best record in this race, his win on Lucia Valentina in 2016 taking him to a total of five, one ahead of Neville Sellwood and Peter Cook.

Oliver’s other successes came aboard Road to Rock (2010), Sarrera (2008), Desert War (2007) and Defier (2002).

Overall, George Moore is the leading rider of this race with 6 wins, Moore partnering Tulloch in 1958, (the first of that horse’s three Queen Elizabeths). Again aboard Tulloch in 1961, Moore’s other 4 wins came in a span of just 6 years, from 1963 to 1968, all of his winners starting favourite.

Friday’s Verdict will take a close look at the riders competing in the Queen Elizabeth this week.

Form Focus Verdict

Hugh Bowman boasts the best Queen Elizabeth record of the competing riders tomorrow (11 rides for 2 winners and 2 seconds), and one expects that will be improved upon tomorrow.

Other riders and their Queen Elizabeth record:

Craig Williams – 10 rides for 1 win (Criterion) and 1 dead-heat second (Sarrera)
Kerrin McEvoy – 8 rides for 2 seconds (The United States, Red Cadeaux)
Blake Shinn – 7 rides for a fourth and 2 fifths


Knowledge & Insight

The undisputed king of Sydney trainers, T.J. (Tommy) Smith has a vice-like grip on the Queen Elizabeth Stakes training record with 11 wins, (7 wins clear of his daughter, Gai Waterhouse), the master trainer first scoring with his champion 3yo Tulloch in the 1958 edition (the horse taking the 1960 & 1961 editions as well).

The colt had collected three Derbies the previous Spring (AJC, VRC & QTC), plus the Rosehill and Caulfield Guineas against his own age.

He was so dominant in the Caulfield Guineas that Smith backed him up in the Caulfield Cup a week later, Tulloch smashing the Australian record for 12 furlongs in scoring by two lengths.

He started the shortest priced favourite in Caulfield Cup history (4/6) with Smith describing Tulloch as “the greatest horse in the world. I’m not worried about the weight penalty he will get for the Melbourne Cup”.

History tells us that Tulloch would not take his place in the 1957 Melbourne Cup due to owner E.A. Haley refusing to run a 3yo in the two-miler, saying “I love horses too much to run a 3yo. I will not risk breaking the colt’s heart”.

The 1958 Queen Elizabeth was Tulloch’s sixth straight victory in a sequence that would eventually stretch to twelve. However, it would be the colt’s last start for almost two years, Tulloch almost dying as a 4yo due to a chronic stomach illness.

Form Focus Verdict

It’s only been a decade years since trainer Chris Waller prepared his first Group 1 winner in Australia (Triple Honour in the 2008 Doncaster), and now in 2018, Sydney’s leading trainer shoots for G1 win number 79.

Seventeen of those are courtesy of Winx, all with Hugh Bowman aboard. As a combination, Waller and Bowman have shared 29 Group 1 victories, so one can readily see how much a major role Winx has played in their partnership.

Lee Freedman prepared the 1994 winner Durbridge, then two years later his Caulfield Cup-Melbourne Cup winner Doriemus landed the money, Lee’s brother Anthony lining up Japanese import Ambitious tomorrow.


Knowledge & Insight

The Queen Elizabeth Stakes honour board contains some fine names, none greater than three-time winner Tulloch (1958, 1960, 1961) and of course, star mare and three-time Cox Plate winner Winx.

1998 winner Might and Power came off the back of the 1997 Caulfield Cup-Melbourne Cup double, going on to collect the 1998 Cox Plate, while Jeune (1995) & Doriemus (1996) are other Melbourne Cup winners to take the Queen Elizabeth Stakes in the Autumn.

Caulfield Cup winners on the honour roll include the above-mentioned Tulloch along with Gay Icarus, Ming Dynasty, Tristarc & Sydeston.

Form Focus Verdict

Claiming his third Queen Elizabeth in 1961, Tulloch became the first horse to win the Cox Plate and Queen Elizabeth in the same season.

Three years later and the New Zealander Summer Regent emulated Tulloch (in more ways than one) when he also collected the double – both horses had been an unplaced favourite in the Melbourne Cup the previous Spring.

Fast forward a quarter of a century to 1989, and another Kiwi in Our Poetic Prince collected the double, the Queen Elizabeth now conducted over 2000m and not over 14 furlongs (2800m) as it was in the sixties.

A mystery it may be, but only 3 times since 1989 has a Cox Plate winner gone to contest the Queen Elizabeth in the Autumn – Savabeel (2004) and Adelaide (2015), both missing a place, while Winx continued her dominance last year, scoring by 5.3 lengths.



Form Focus Verdict

The pressure-valve will be at maximum level by Queen Elizabeth Stakes start time of 3.05pm tomorrow, public expectation and media anticipation building on the story that is Winx.

The mare’s complete domination of her opposition over the past 3 years makes tipping against her in the Queen Elizabeth pretty much impossible.

So, succumbing to public expectation, Winx goes on top.

Improbable as it seems, the only two horses that could potentially cause a boilover are Ambitious and Humidor.


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