The Memsie Stakes, an annual 1400m sprint race held at the renowned Caulfield Racecourse, holds a prestigious position within the Australian horse racing calendar. There have only been a handful of occasions the race was held elsewhere. In 1984 it took place at Sandown and from 1940-1944 it took place in Flemington. This was due to Caulfield being utilised for military purposes during WWII. Its role as the first event of the spring racing season has solidified its reputation as a critical race that sets the tone for the months ahead. Let’s take a look at the history of the Memsie Stakes.
Inauguration and Evolution
Commencing in 1899 at Caulfield Racecourse, the Memsie Stakes began its journey over 1600m. The race was named as a tribute to a town near esteemed owner/breeder John Catto’s birthplace place in Scotland. It was a modest yet eager audience that characterised the Memsie Stakes’ early years. Over time, the race distance was adjusted to the current 1400 meters. This was to reflect changes in racing preferences and trends. This evolution was driven by a desire to appeal to a broader range of competitors. As well as maintain the Memsie Stakes’ relevance in the evolving landscape of Australian racing. In 2013 it was upgraded to Group 1 status, with Atlantic Jewel taking home the win.
Throughout its existence, the Memsie Stakes has been graced by iconic winners who have left an indelible mark on the race’s legacy. Names like Phar Lap, Ajax, and Manikato have emerged victorious. These champions are the benchmarks against which contemporary contenders measure themselves. Their presence on the winner’s list underscores the race’s significance. More recently the likes of So You Think, Dissident, and Snapdancer have been among the winners.
Respected trainers including Tommy Smith, Bart Cummings, and Lee Freedman have guided their horses to the winner’s circle. However, trainer Jack Holt still holds the record as the most-winning trainer of the Memsie Stakes with 11 winners to his name. Their ability to prepare horses for the unique challenges posed by Caulfield Racecourse has been instrumental in achieving success.
The Memsie Stakes has been a witness to moments that have etched themselves into the memory of Australian racing enthusiasts. Coupled with Phar Lap’s victory in 1931. It remains a defining highlight in the race’s history. This pivotal win marked the inception of a legendary winning streak and cemented Phar Lap’s position as an enduring racing icon. In 2014 Dissident kicked off a memorable campaign when winning the Memsie Stakes. He then went on to win another four Group 1 races that season.
2023 Memsie Contenders
You can’t help but feel the excitement around the Mr. Brightside and I Wish I Win clash. Mr Brightside doesn’t look to have missed a beat when he dominated in the P.B Lawrence Stakes two weeks ago. He chased a hot speed and ran a rapid time breaking the course record. With I Wish I Wins’ grand final being six weeks away you know he’s going to take great improvement from this assignment. The distance certainly won’t worry him. This time last year we saw him resume and win at this course and distance. Although in much lesser company. Moody has never wavered in his confidence in this horse, so we shouldn’t start to doubt him now.
Alligator Blood is a danger. The Waterhouse/Bott Stable have been clear they intended to start in this race for a while. He has won both his trials in Sydney impressively. We witnessed him win first up over this trip in the Autumn when he won the Group 1 Futurity Stakes. Considering the stable he represents, he will be fully wound up for this assignment.
The Memsie Stakes encapsulates a timeline of transformation, it remains steadfast in its tribute to history while embracing the promise of the future.