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Darley Classic

The Darley Classic has had so many changes of both name and distance over the years. It is a wonder anyone understands what it should really be called.

Darley Classic History

The race was first held in 1868 under the name of the Flying Stakes and was run over six furlongs. In 1887, the distance was changed to seven furlongs. In 1908, the name was changed to the Linlithgow Stakes and the distance was increased to eight furlongs. In 1968, the distance was reduced to seven furlongs, which became 1,400 metres with the switch to metric in 1972.

In 1992, the distance was reduced again to 1,200 metres, so the race is, in effect, back where it started. In 1997, the name was changed to the Emirates Classic, and in 2004 became the Lexus Classic. In 2005, the name changed again to the Age Classic, and in 2008 became the Patinack Farm Classic. In 2013, it was the VRC Sprint Classic.

Just when you thought you knew which race you were going to bet on and you are searching for the Patinack Farm Classic, or the VRC Sprint Classic, you won’t find it, because this year the name has changed again and it is now the Darley Classic!

From 1868 to 1978 it was a Principal Race, but was upgraded to Group 2 status in 1979. In 2007, it was upgraded again to Group 1, taking over the position from the Salinger Stakes which is held the previous Saturday, and which was downgraded to Group 2.

Recent Runners

In 2008, as the Patinack Farm Classic, it took over from the Australia Stakes as an Australian leg of the Global Sprint Challenge; it is the eighth leg of the competition and is followed by the Hong Kong International Sprint.

The race is a weight for age event for all horses, and is run over 1,200 metres on the famous Flemington Straight Six, on the last day of the Melbourne Cup, which this year is Saturday November 5th. Prize money up for grabs is $1,000,000.

The race is generally dominated by older horses, three year olds failing to make any impression, and in the last twelve years, only two four year olds have won (Black Caviar in 2010 and Mental in 2012).

Past Winners

In the past ten years, four favourites have won the race, but then over the same period five have failed to place. Black Caviar won the race back to back in 2010 and 2011. Other notable horses to win in recent years are Fastnet Rock in 2004, Dance Hero (2006), and Miss Andretti in 2007.

Two lead up races for the Darley Classic are the Gilgai Stakes run at Flemington five weeks beforehand, and the Schweppes Stakes over 1,200 metres at Moonee Valley two weeks prior. In 2007, Miss Andretti completed the Schweppes Stakes/Patinack Farm Classic double, as did Black Caviar in 2010.

As the race is run on the straight, the barrier draw does not seem to make much difference. However, some punters say that there is a bias to the inside (while others say the outside!) if there is a strong wind blowing at the time of the race.