Underwood Stakes

Underwood Stakes

Group One Betting Guide
Date: Saturday, September 24, 2022
Location: Sandown Racecourse
Prize Money: $1,000,000
Distance: 1800m

Sometimes referred to as the unofficial opening of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, the Group 1 Underwood Stakes is the first weight-for-age race of the spring.

The weight-for-age race is the headline act on the metropolitan card in Victoria each year on the weekend of the AFL Grand Final, and goes alongisde Golden Rose day in Sydney.

The Underwood Stakes is often looked at as a precursor to the Cox Plate, with the double having been done 15 times over the race’s 90-year history. Another six horses have run in the Underwood and then gone on to win the Cox Plate.

The most well-known to achieve this feat was Northerly, trained by Fred Kersley, who did it in 2001 and 2002. The latter victory made all the more special by the great horse also winning the Caulfield Cup in the same year.

Despite all the bluster about it being a trial run for the Caulfield Cup, just seven horses have done the double before, admittedly three of those Northerly (2002), Mummify (2003) and Elvstroem (2004) have been since 2000.

2022 Underwood Stakes odds

Star horse Zaaki
Zaaki found himself on the Underwood Stakes honour roll in 2021, who will join him in the 2022 edition?

To Be Confirmed closer to racing date.

Betting on the Underwood Stakes

The Underwood Stakes has thrown up some true surprises over the years for punters. As it is so early in the season it is hard to gauge a horse’s form, with many of the leading contenders having their eyes on bigger rewards later in the carnival.

2019 winner Black Heart Bart was the biggest priced winner when he got up at $101 in what was a shock to many punters.

It can pay to do some research and see what the trainer is planning for that specific campaign, a horse might have two runs under its belt and be peaking, while a much quicker horse might be aimed at the Cox Plate and using the Underwood as a warm-up.

All Australian online bookmakers worth their grain of salt will have markets out for the Underwood at least a month in advance.

United States Sport Table

Sport Table

Underwood Stakes form guide

Black Heart Bart
Champion galloper Black Heart Bart won the Underwood Stakes on two occasions.

With the Underwood such a popular race for horses attempting to win the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate, it can be hard to read the form for this race.

The Makybe Diva Stakes, which was formerly run as the Craiglee Stakes, is run two weeks earlier at Flemington over 1600m and has proven a great guide to horses fortunes in the Underwood.

Another race, the Memsie Stakes (1400m), run at Caulfield about a month earlier has produced two Underwood winners – So You Think and El Segundo, who both are Cox Plate winners.

Bart Cummings has been the star of the training ranks, with three wins from 20 runners in the Underwood. Danny Nikolic has a remarkable record in the race with nine rides, for four wins, a second and a third.

The Underwood Stakes is named after a former chairman of the Victorian Amateur Turf Club James Underwood and has been run every year since 1924.

While the race is run over 1800m today, it has not always been this way with being run anywhere from 2400m to 1600m.

Some of the more prominent winners include So You Think (2010), Weekend Hussler (2008), Tie The Knot (1998), Octagonal (1996) and the fabled dual Melbourne Cup winner Rain Lover, who won the great race in 1969.

2021 Underwood Stakes result


1stZaaki ($1.18)
2ndProbabeel ($7.50)
3rdSuperstorm ($21.00)

Underwood Stakes – Recent runnings

  • The race was won before it was started when Zaaki jumped as $1.18 favourite in the five horse race. After setting the world alight in Queensland over the Winter, winning the Hollindale Stakes, Doomben Cup and The Q22, Annabel Neasham’s galloper returned to Sydney for a terrific win in the Tramway Stakes before sending him to Melbourne. The seven-year-old Gelding had a the race go exactly to plan as Craig Williams barely had to lift a finger to get the Gelding to win by 2 lengths and secure another Group Win to the plate and making it five in a row.
  • The 2020 Underwood Stakes was suppose to be a match race between Russian Camelot and Arcadia Queen. However, it was Russian Camelot who went on to win the first Group 1 weight-for-age race of the season, with Humidor splitting he and Arcadia Queen. Russian Camelot was crunched into a $1.55 favourite prior to the jump and he certainly repaid the punters who were on him in the Makybe Diva Stakes where he was narrowly defeated off a tough run.
  • Homesman was looking to go back in Underwood Stakes, but the Lindsey Smith trained Black Hear Bart floored Punters, and made sure quaddie tickets were confetti when he saluted at $101 in what turned out to be the Gelding’s final win before retirement and claimed his second Unerwood Stakes in the process. Homesman was able to find his way into second, whilst Gailo Chop was able to fill out the minor placings.
  • The Liam Howley-trained Homesman has been one of the more impressive imports Aussie punters have seen this year, but until his breakthrough Underwood Stakes win, group success had eluded the American product. Under a brilliant Ben Melham ride, the five-year-old broke away from the field and looked to have the race sewn up before Darren Weir’s Japanese import Tosen Basil made a late charge. Homesman held on however to deliver a powerful Underwood Stakes win.
  • New Zealand mare Bonneval continued its superb winning run by scoring a convincing Underwood Stakes victory. The Baker/Forsman-trained four-year-old was a multiple Oaks winner prior to running at Caulfield and it secured the significant weight-for-age victory. Bonneval firmed into Caulfield Cup markets with the win over Hartnell. Read report here.
  • Black Heart Bart emerged as a serious contender for the Cox Plate with a scintillating win in 2016. Brad Rawiller steered Black Heart Bart despite carrying an injury and the pair answered the doubts over whether the horse could run 1800m. Trained by Darren Weir, Black Heart Bart ($2.20) made it two group 1s on the trot, after sitting third for most of the race before moving up at the top of the straight. The six year old beat home He or She, with Lucia Valentina also impressing to finish third. Read a full report.
  • Mourinho, trained by Peter Gelagotis, defied being eight years old to hold out a class field, including fellow eight year olds Fawkner ($3.40) and The Cleaner ($7.50). For Gelagotis it was a sweet victory after Mourinho did not get a start in the 2014 Cox Plate.
  • Chris Waller’s Foreteller produced a stirring sprint to defeat the previous year’s Cox Plate runner-up Happy Trails. Waller claimed after the race that the eight year old was racing as well as ever, after slowly working through the grades over a distinguished career.
  • It’s a Dundeel took advantage of a wet track to win from Atlantic Jewel. Billed as the Race of the Millennium, Michael Rodd onboard Atlantic Jewel made the early pace, but it was James McDonald and It’s A Dundeel with the perfect run. Trained by Murray Baker, It’s A Dundeel only got the upper hand in the final few strides.

Previous Underwood Stakes winners

Underwood StakesPast Winners
Year Horse Jockey Trainer
2021 Zaaki Craig Williams Annabel Neasham
2020 Russian Camelot Damien Oliver Danny O’Brien
2019 Black Heart Bart Brad Rawiller Lindsey Smith
2018 Homesman Ben Melham Liam Howley
2017 Bonneval Hugh Bowman Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman
2016 Black Heart Bart Brad Rawiller Darren Weir
2015 Mourinho Vlad Duric Peter Gelagotis
2014 Foreteller Glen Boss Chris Waller
2013 It’s A Dundeel James McDonald Murray Baker
2012 Ocean Park Glen Boss Gary Hennessy
2011 Lion Tamer Michael Rodd Murray Baker
2010 So You Think Steven Arnold Bart Cummings
2009 Heart Of Dreams Craig Newitt Mick Price
2008 Weekend Hussler Brad Rawiller Ross McDonald
2007 Rubiscent Danny Nikolic Mick Price
2006 El Segundo Darren Gauci Colin Little
2005 Perlin Danny Nikolic Lee Freedman
2004 Elvstroem Nash Rawiller Ton Vasil
2003 Mummify Danny Nikolic Lee Freedman
2002 Northerly Greg Childs Fred Kersley
2001 Northerly Damien Oliver Fred Kersley
2000 Oliver Twist Greg Childs Brian Mayfield-Smith

Underwood Stakes winners pre-2000

Underwood Stakes Past Winners Pre 2000
Year Horse
1999 Intergaze
1998 Tie the Knot
1997 Always Aloof
1996 Octagonal
1995 Sharscay
1994 Jeune
1993 Runyon
1992 Prince Salieri
1991 Dr. Grace
1990 The Phantom
1989 Almaarad
1988 Authaal
1987 Rubiton
1986 Bonecrusher
1985 Tristarc
1984 Bounty Hawk
1983 Trissaro
1982 Fearless Pride
1981 Sovereign Red
1980 My Brown Jug / Waitangirua
1979 Valley Of Georgia
1978 So Called
1977 Denise’s Joy
1976 How Now
1975 Taras Bulba
1974 Frozen Section
1973 Scotch And Dry
1972 Sobar
1971 Gay Icarus
1970 Big Philou
1969 Rain Lover
1968 Lowland
1967 Future
1966 Tobin Bronze
1965 Future
1964 Contempler
1963 Havelock
1962 Aquanita
1961 Aquanita
1960 Lord
1959 Trellios
1958 Lord
1957 Syntax
1956 Ray Ribbon
1955 Cromis
1954 Flying Halo
1953 Flying Halo
1952 Ellerslie
1951 Laurie Hussar
1950 Beau Gem
1949 Beau Gem
1948 Royal Gem
1947 Attley
1946 Attley
1945 St. Fairy
1944 Amana / Tea Cake
1943 Gay Revelry
1942 Race Not Held
1941 Sun Valley
1940 Ajax
1939 Ajax
1938 Ajax
1937 Young Idea
1936 Peter Fils
1935 Young Idea
1934 Hall Mark
1933 Hall Mark
1932 Liberal
1931 Phar Lap
1930 Waterline
1929 Highland
1928 Highland
1927 Royal Charter
1926 Heroic
1925 Whittier
1924 Whittier
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