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Crown Oaks

The Crown Oaks was formerly known as the VRC Oaks. It is held on the Thursday directly following the Melbourne Handicap on the first Tuesday in November, so in effect is the first Thursday in November.

It was first run in 1861 and is now known as Ladies Day. This is following the efforts of the Victoria Racing Club to draw in more female visitors to the racecourse.  In 1962 by added the Fashions on the Field event.  Similar events are now held at racecourses all over the world.

The feature race of the day is the Group 1 Crown Oaks which is run over 2,500 metres and is for three year old fillies; it is sponsored by the Crown Casino. A set weight race, each filly carries 55.5 kilograms. In essence, it is the equivalent of the fillies version of the Victoria Derby the previous Saturday. Crown Oaks day draws a huge crowd when it is considered that, following the Melbourne Cup day, which is a public holiday, this is just another normal working day. 70,000 people and more now attend every year.

Up for grabs is prize money of over $1,000,000.  The Crown Oaks is one of the most prestigious events for fillies in the Australian racing calendar.

Lead up races

The Wakeful Stakes, held the week before the Crown Oaks is a good lead up race. The winner of the Wakeful Stakes often goes on to win, or at the very least place, in the Crown Oaks.  Better odds may be offered on the Crown Oaks before the Wakeful Stakes is run.  In this case, it is useful to check out the results of the earlier Group 2 Edward Manifold Stakes and the Group 1 Thousand Guineas.  Both run over 1,600 metres. Both races are often used as lead ups to the Crown Oaks.

It is well worthwhile keeping an eye out for fillies trained by either Bart Cummings, or Lee Freedman.  Each has won the race four times out of the last 20 editions. Bart Cummings actually has six winners from 27 starts.

The top jockey is J. A. Cassidy, having five wins from 14 starts.

Recent winners

Many recent winners of the Crown Oaks have remained memorable, including Magical Miss in 2001, Special Harmony in 2003, Miss Finland in 2006, and Samantha Miss in 2008.

Over the past ten years, seven out of the ten winners have been favourites, while only one favourite has failed to place. Thus a bet on the favourite to win, or an each way bet, may be a good choice.

During the last twenty editions of the race, no less than 14 winners have come via the Wakeful Stakes.  Eight of them achieving the double. These eight are: Arborea (1993), Saleous (1995), Kensington Palace (1997, Grand Archway (1998), Hollow Bullet (2004), Serenade Rose (2005), Faint Perfume (2009), and Brazilian Pulse (2010). With theother six horses, none have finished further back than sixth in the Wakeful Stakes, before going on to win the Crown Oaks.

The barriers do not seem to figure too highly in the Crown Oaks, with winners spread right across them. If the horse is caught wide on the first turn, there is time enough for the jockey to make it up on the back straight which is about 600 metres in length.