The Caulfield Cup is one of Australia’s oldest and most prestigious horse races, having been run annually since way back in 1879. Some of the country’s most celebrated racehorses have won here and many go on to compete in the Melbourne Cup just a couple of weeks after, and those two races — alongside the Cox Plate, which is run on the weekend between the two — make up what is generally known as the Big 3 of Australian racing.
The Caulfield Cup is a Group 1 race held at — as you may have guessed — Caulfield Racecourse. It’s run over 2,400 meters and is open to horses aged three years and older. The race takes place under handicap conditions, meaning that each horse is assigned a different weight based on a variety of factors, including past performance, age, and sex.
Though falling 800 meters short of the Melbourne Cup in terms of distance, the length of the race means that it attracts many of the best stayers both from within Australia and abroad. Entry alone is a significant achievement while winning the Caulfield Cup puts horse, jockey, and trainer in rarefied air.
A number of the horses to have won the Caulfield Cup are now etched in history as some of the world’s finest, be that through their performance at this race itself, other races or a combination of the two. Poseidon was one great Australian racehorse who won back-to-back Caulfield Cups back in 1906 and 1907, following up the first of those with a Melbourne Cup win a couple of days later.
That makes him one of just seven horses to win the Caulfield Cup on two occasions, one of 11 to have won the Caulfield Cup and the Melbourne Cup in the same year, and one of just two to have achieved both of those feats. The horse he shares that unique record with is Rising Fast, a racehorse from New Zealand who, in 1954, won the Caulfield Cup, the Melbourne Cup, and the Cox Plate — the only horse to have ever completed that treble.
More recently, the famed New Zealand-bred Might and Power saluted in 1997, running a course record and winning by an incredible 7.5 lengths in the process in one of the race’s greatest ever performances. Last year, it was the Chris Waller-trained Verry Elleegant who took it out, in doing so establishing herself as one of the best stayers in the world.
It’s safe to say the winners – or second, third or fourth — won’t go hungry after the Caulfield Cup. One of the world’s richest races over such a distance, the total prize money of the race sits at a huge $5 million. The only race in Australia with a larger prize pool is the Melbourne Cup, which sees participants share in a huge $7.3 million, while the Cox Plate also boasts a prize pool of $5 million.
Of course, the history and tradition behind the race add to its prestige as much if not more than the prize money, but the financial reward is indicative of the esteem in which the race is held around both Australia and the globe. The 2021 Caulfield Cup will be held on the 16th of October when Verry Elleegant will look to join the elite group of two-time winners, and it will be up to the likes of Tiger Moth, Mount Popa, and Prince of Arran to try to stop her.