|Date:||Sunday, September 30, 2018|
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
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.
Odds for the 2018 Underwood Stakes
After winning the Makybe Diva Stakes in sensational fashion, Grunt ($5) tops the market at online bookmaker Ladbrokes.
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
|Year||Underwood Stakes Past Winner|
|2016||Black Heart Bart|
|2013||It’s a Dundeel|
|2010||So You Think|
|2009||Heart Of Dreams|
|1998||Tie the Knot|
|1980||My Brown Jug / Waitangirua|
|1979||Valley Of Georgia|
|1973||Scotch And Dry|
|1944||Amana / Tea Cake|
|1942||Race Not Held|