THE Group 1 Telegraph Handicap is New Zealand’s premier sprinting race with a purse of $250,000 and a long list of champion winners.
It’s run at Trentham every January and betting on the feature sprint has become popular ever since champion sire Darci Brahma won in 2007.
The weather usually plays a part in Wellington during the summer, but it can be temperamental which has led to some high-priced outsiders winning in recent history.
The cream rises to the top in the Telegraph Handicap and punters have had a great history of landing winners in the feature sprint.
Best Telegraph Handicap bookmakers
All of our bookmakers will offer odds on the Group 1 Telegraph Handicap, but only a few of them offer futures betting.
Sportsbet.com.au is the first to release a market for the sprint where punters can place an all-in bet months in advance of the January feature.
The following bookmakers will have form and markets for the Telegraph Handicap:
2017 Telegraph Handicap result
1. Signify – $46.30
2. Start Wondering – $2.30
3. Perfect Fit
Quinella – $121.20
Trifecta – $2362.60
Recent Telegraph Handicap winners
2017: Signify caused a big upset in 2017 when winning at odds of $46.30. The southerner had solid form leading into the race, but not on the scale as some of the well-fancied runners. Under the urging of jockey Racha Cuneen, Signify was able to finish over the top of Start Wondering to score its biggest career win.
2016: On an overcast and rain-affected track at Trentham, Adventador caused the biggest upset in the 127-year history of the Telegraph Handicap. The seven-year-old won paying $80.90 and caused a shock around New Zealand in the process. It was racing against one of the better Telegraph Handicap fields in history, but it managed to turn questionable form around and take the big victory. In second place was Miss Seton Sands at $8.30 to place and in third was Trepidation at $9.20 to place – setting up a $62,332.30 trifecta.
2015: Sacred Star entered the Telegraph having not won in four starts since taking out the Group 2 QTC Cup at Eagle Farm, but class is permanent and it showed a quality field a clean pair of heels. The Tony Pike-trained gelding won by four lengths in a lightning time of 1:07.01, but the biggest surprise of the day was the odds on offer. Bookmakers dished out $27.40 for the win despite the form it had shown in Australia. It would later go on to win the Group 1 NRM Sprint and the Group 3 Darley Plate, but subsequently finish a disappointing 11th in the 2016 Telegraph Handicap as the $2 favourite.
2014: Trainers Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen scored their first of two Telegraph Handicap winners with Irish Fling after later winning with Adventador. The five-year-old was an each way chance in the market at $8.50 and it just held on over the fast-finishing Natuzzi to win by a neck in a time of 1:07.48. The race was run on a rare Fast 1 track at Trentham which caused plenty of controversy. Again the multiples payouts were big as despised outsider Jaggard finished third paying $19.10 for the place.
2013: Final Touch was too classy for its rivals in 2013 and due to the quality of opposition it faced, the champion South Island runner won paying $14.50. Ridden by Chris Johnson, the five-year-old was given a quiet ride at the back of the field before Johnson let it loose in the straight. It held on by a long neck over the well-favoured Xanadu and Burgundy with the likes of 2012 champion Guiseppina finishing well down the track.
2012: Guiseppina scored a win for the shorter-priced runners in 2012 when winning at odds of $4.70. The five-year-old scored by a long neck over Australian raider and Railway Stakes winner Atomic Force, with El Chico running in third at odds of $8.40. James McDonald was the winning jockey, beating out Nash Rawiller who was in second. Due to the firm track, two-time winner Mufhasa was scratched in the lead-up.
Notable Telegraph Handicap winners
Champion sprinter Mufhasa won in 2009 for trainer Stephen McKee and repeated the dose in 2011.
The 13-time winner in New Zealand would go on to take out the Group 1 Toorak Handicap when beating the likes of King’s Rose and Luen Yat Forever before winning again in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes over Cox Plate champion Pinker Pinker.
McKee had won the Telegraph Handicap earlier with Star Of Gold in 2001 when training in partnership with Trevor McKee.
Seachange ran one of the quickest times at Trentham of 1:06.66 when winning in 2008. The 14-time winner was twice awarded New Zealand Horse of the Year and its win in 2008 capped off a year which included wins in the Mannerism Stakes and Waikato Draught Sprint.
A year prior to Seachange winning saw future stud star Darci Brahma take out the Telegraph Handicap in fine style for Mark Walker.
Darci Brahma burst onto the scene when winning the T.J. Smith and the New Zealand 2000 Guineas in the same year.
The colt finished its career with 10 wins and five placings from 19 starts before being sent to stud, which also included the Waikato Sprint and Telegraph Handicap in 2007.
Mark Walker also trained 2004 Telegraph Handicap winner King’s Chapel which was a popular elect for punters.
The champion names continue down the list of past winners which also includes O’Reilly – a future star in the breeding industry, and Mr Tiz which was a two-time winner in 1989 and 1990.
Telegraph Handicap past winners list
2017 – Signify
2016 – Adventador
2015 – Sacred Star
2014 – Irish Fling
2013 – Final Touch
2012 – Guiseppina
2011 – Mufhasa
2010 – Vonusti
2009 – Mufhasa
2008 – Seachange
2007 – Darci Brahma
2006 – Gee I Jane
2005 – Keeninsky
2004 – King’s Chapel
2003 – Tit For Taat
2002 – Vinaka
2001 – Star Of Gold
2000 – Fritz
1999 – Bawalaksana
1998 – Vegas
1997 – O’Reilly
1996 – Loader
1995 – Lord Tridan
1994 – Lady Madonna
1993 – Victory Dias
1992 – Morar
1991 – Vain Sovereign
1990 – Mr Tiz
1989 – Mr Tiz & Festal (Dead Heat)
1988 – Courier Bay
1987 – Courier Bay