Spring Classic

THE Spring Classic is the final leg of the Hawke’s Bay Triple Crown, which also features the Tarzino Trophy (Challenge Stakes) and the Windsor Park Plate.

New Zealand’s richest weight-for-age race at $250,000, the Spring Classic used to be worth $1.2 million when it was the Kelt Capital Stakes, but the sponsorship fell through and the fields haven’t changed in quality since.

The Spring Classic always adds plenty of excitement as it is the last leg of the Triple Crown and it’s also the last chance in spring for the quality thoroughbreds to show what they’ve got before heading over to Australia.

Run in the first Saturday of October, the Spring Classic is the feature on a bumper card which also includes the Hawke’s Bay Guineas. Due to the timing of the race, the weather typically plays its part and is considered one of the must-attend race days on the New Zealand calendar.

With the New Zealand Punter of the Year competition being held on Spring Classic day, there’s plenty of punting interest on both sides of the Tasman and bookmakers offer great value odds across the board.

Some of the past winners include Castletown, Veandercross, Xcellent, Princess Coup and Jimmy Choux – with the race being a great guide to the Melbourne Cup run a month later.

Best Spring Classic bookmakers

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All of our recommended bookmakers offer markets for the Spring Classic which includes futures, fixed odds and tote betting.

2017 Spring Classic market

Recent Spring Classic winners

2016: Willie Cazals caused an upset in 2016 with a narrow win. The O’Sullivan/Scott training combination continued their good success at Hastings with Willie Cazals, which was an outsider in the betting at $16.10. The nine-year-old imported runner defied its age in lasting from a short neck over subsequent Group 1 Australian Cup Humidor and the highly talented Hasselhoof. Given the quality of the field, Humidor still paid $2 to place despite running as the race favourite.

2015: Addictive Habit was a popular winner for punters at $6.80 and it was given a great ride by Sam Spratt. The Lee Somerville-trained six-year-old had always been a popular runner with New Zealand punters and it finally scored its big group one victory. The field was mostly comprised of the more staying types which included Benzini and Nashville, but the win was still a credit to a tough and consistent horse.

2014: Favourite punters were left deflated after the win of Costume in 2014. Race favourite Shuka had attracted some massive bets from the New Zealand public and it looked the winner for most of the straight, but the Rogerson-trained Costume finished strongly down the outside to down them all at odds of $52. The well-bred daughter of Savabeel had been out of form for awhile leading into the race, but it pulled out all the stops when it needed to. The come from behind win came on a day where the leaders were going well, so the win deserved even more credit. Finishing in behind was the likes of 2015 winner Addictive Habit, multiple group one winner Nashville and New Zealand Derby winner Puccini.

2013: The Spring Classic has been known to throw in the odd upset and Ransomed was a key example of this. The Gary Vile-trained stayer was more suited to wet tracks and not the good 3 surface which they raced on, but it proved too good to score by a nose over Nashville. The son of Handsome Ransom didn’t quite live up to expectations in subsequent Spring Classics, but the $30 shot had its time in the sun. Nashville and Survived rounded out the placings.

2012: Shez Sinsational was one of New Zealand’s best thoroughbreds in its time and it scored a popular victory in 2012. The Allan Sharrock-trained stayer entered the race having won twice at group one level that year and it also went to Australia and won the Group 2 Hollindale at Gold Coast. It was able to turn around a poor showing in the Windsor Park Plate where it finished 11th and win at odds of $8.60. The Spring Classic was the first of three consecutive wins in New Zealand before retiring in the Group 1 Zabeel Classic at Ellerslie where it finished second behind Veyron and ahead of Shootoff.

Notable Spring Classic winners

1991 Castletown – One of the toughest horses to ever race in New Zealand, Castletown emerged victorious in the 1991 Spring Classic (Kelt Capital). The New Zealand Derby, Auckland Cup and three-time Wellington Cup winner had 103 starts throughout its lengthy career and it was good enough to run in three consecutive Melbourne and Caulfield Cups. It finished third to Subzero and 1992 Spring Classic winner Veandercross in the 1992 Melbourne Cup.

1992 Veandercross – The Crossways gelding already had a long list of achievements before winning the Spring Classic in 1992, which included the 2000 Guineas in New Zealand, but its spring win in Hastings kicked off a campaign where it ran second in the Melbourne Cup. During its 15-win career it scored the Mackinnon Stakes, Queen Elizabeth, Ranvet Stakes and the Australian Cup. It’s considered one of New Zealand’s best thoroughbreds in history and was awarded the Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year for the 1992/93 season.

2005 Xcellent – The Spring Classic provided another springboard into the Melbourne Cup as Xcellent went on to run third in the 2005 Melbourne Cup. The highly talented gelding won eight of its 13 starts which included the New Zealand Derby, New Zealand Stakes and the Mudgway Stakes. Its career was cut short due to a suspensory ligament rupture after winning the Group 3 Trentham Stakes, which made that victory even more impressive. Xcellent won the New Zealand Horse of the Year in both the 2004/05 and 2005/06 seasons.

2007/2008 Princess Coup – Princess Coup was a popular runner for punters and was often the subject of big betting plunges. The Mark Walker-trained mare scored back-to-back Spring Classic victories and amassed over AUD$3.7 million in stakes earnings. Along with its Spring Classic wins, Princess Coup won the New Zealand Oaks and also finished third in the 2007 Caulfield Cup behind Master O’Reilly.

2011 Jimmy Choux – Jimmy Choux was one of New Zealand’s most successful thoroughbreds with 12 wins from only 21 starts. The future stallion won the 2011 New Zealand Derby, 2000 Guineas, Rosehill Guineas, Windsor Park Plate and Spring Classic all in the same year. It’s safe to say that 2011 was a good year for Jimmy Choux and we didn’t mention its second placing behind Pinker Pinker in the Cox Plate. It subsequently ran sixth in the Hong Kong Mile before retiring in 2012 when running down the track in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Jimmy Choux currently resides at stud in New Zealand.

Spring Classic past winners list

2016 – Willie Cazals
2015 – Addictive Habit
2014 – Costume
2013 – Ransomed
2012 – Shez Sinsational
2011 – Jimmy Choux
2010 – Wall Street
2009 – Vosne Romanee
2008 – Princess Coup
2007 – Princess Coup
2006 – Legs
2015 – Xcellent
2004 – Balmuse
2003 – Distinctly Secret
2002 – Prized Gem
2001 – Cinder Bella
2000 – The Message
1999 – Cent Home
1998 – Just Call Me Sir
1997 – Moss Downs
1996 – Love Dance
1995 – Italian Saint
1994 – Solvit
1993 – Calm Harbour
1992 – Veandercross
1991 – Castletown

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