The Moonee Valley Cup is one of the many high-quality staying races which are so prevalent throughout the course of Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival. Taking place in late October each year, it’s the most prestigious distance event on the Moonee Valley calendar, and in this Moonee Valley Cup for beginners guide we’ll tell you all you need to know about the race.
The Moonee Valley Cup – A history
The Moonee Valley Cup was first held in 1883, when it was run over 1,600 metres and won by Castaway. As with many events on the Australian racing circuit, the distance of the race was changed many times in its initial stages, and between 1885 and 1888 it got as short as 1,200 metres, less than half of what it is today. From 1900 onwards it jumped out to over 2,000 metres, but it wasn’t until 1995 that it was first run at the 2,500 metres marker as it is today.
For the first 96 editions of the Moonee Valley Cup it was a Principal race, before in 1979 it was, for the first time, listed as a Group 3 race. That lasted just one year. In 1980 it became a Group 2 listed race, and it has remained as such ever since.
The Modern-Day Moonee Valley Cup
The race is run under set weights with penalties conditions, meaning horses are assigned a weight based on their age and sex, and winners earn a share in $500,000 in total prize money. It’s a hefty number but clearly falls well short of the likes of the Spring Carnival’s feature staying races like the Melbourne Cup and the Cox Plate, meaning many of the horses running here are typically a level below the elite stayers who qualify for those races. That’s not to say, however, that there are not quality horses running in the Moonee Valley Cup, and many participants here have gone on to far bigger and better things.
On ten occasions a horse who has either won or placed at the Moonee Valley Cup has also won the Melbourne Cup, including Prince of Penzance and Americain in recent years, while Brew won in 2000 and Kingston Rule was the last horse to win both in the same year back in 1990. Five-time Melbourne Cup participant Who Shot Thebarman, who placed in the great race on one occasion, is another quality horse to have saluted at the Moonee Valley Cup, having won in 2017.
The most successful trainers and jockeys
The legendary Bart Cummings holds the title as the most successful trainer in Moonee Valley Cup history, and fairly comfortably at that. He trained a total of six winners of this race, two more than David Hayes, who sits in second with four wins.
In terms of jockeys, there are two in history to have been first past the post at this event on four occasions. The first was the great-grandfather of champion trainer Lee Freedman, William McLachlan, over 100 years ago, while much more recently Damian Oliver has matched that feat.
When is the Moonee Valley Cup?
In 2021, the 139th edition of the race will be run on the 24th of October, and as it has for over a century, will act as one of the major precursors to the Melbourne Cup a little over a week later. And while it might not boast the prestige of some of the races which surround it in the latter stages of October and early stages of November, it’s a significant race which numerous champion stayers have competed in and won over the years, and with the city of Melbourne likely to be in full Spring Racing Carnival mode come the day of the race, it will attract plenty of interest from punters and racing fans alike.