Underwood Stakes

Underwood Stakes
Date: Sunday, September 30, 2018
Location: Caulfield Racecourse
Prize Money: $750,000
Distance: 1,800m

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 Underwood 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.

2018 Underwood Stakes result


1stHomesman ($5)
2ndTosen Basil ($12)
3rdHumidor ($2.10)

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.

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 bookies worth their grain of salt will have markets out for the Underwood at least a month in advance.

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Odds for the 2018 Underwood Stakes

Grunt is the Underwood favourite after winning the Makybe Diva Stakes. – pic ex Bruno Cannatelli

After winning the Makybe Diva Stakes in sensational fashion, Grunt ($5) tops the market at online bookmaker Ladbrokes.

Darren Weir pair Humidor and Kings Will Dream are locked on the second line of betting at the $6 quote while D’Argento is at the $10 mark.

Underwood Stakes form guide

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. Current day jockey Danny Nikolic has a remarkable record in the race with nine rides, for four wins, a second and a third.

A brief history of the Underwood Stakes

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.

Underwood Stakes – Recent runnings

  • 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 Stakes past winners
Year Underwood Stakes Past Winner
2018 Homesman
2017 Bonneval
2016 Black Heart Bart
2015 Mourinho
2014 Foreteller
2013 It’s a Dundeel
2012 Ocean Park
2011 Lion Tamer
2010 So You Think
2009 Heart Of Dreams
2008 Weekend Hussler
2007 Rubiscent
2006 El Segundo
2005 Perlin
2004 Elvstroem
2003 Mummify
2002 Northerly
2001 Northerly
2000 Oliver Twist
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