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Emirates Stakes

Held at Flemington on Saturday November 5th this year, the Emirates Stakes is a Group 1 handicap for all horses. It is run over a distance of 1,600 metres. It is the feature race of the Melbourne Cup Carnival final day and carries total prize money of $2,000,000. It is run on the same day as the Group 1 Darley Classic (formerly the Patinack Farm Classic) and the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes.

In recent years, the race has been dominated by colts and stallions, only two mares having won since 2000 – Sky Cuddle in 2004 and Divine Madonna in 2006.

Emirates Stakes History

The Emirates Stakes was first run in 1919 when it was called the Cantala Stakes, but has had many changes of name over the years. From 1961 – 1984 it was the George Adams Handicap, from 1985 to 1988 it was the Ampol Stakes. Then it changed in 1989 to the Honda Stakes, and in 1993 became the Nissan Stakes. It was the Chrysler Stakes in 1996 and 1997.

Lead up races which give an indication as to how a horse will perform in the Emirates Stakes are the Crystal Mile, the Chatham Stakes, the Toorak Handicap and the Cox Plate. The Cox Plate/Emirates Stakes double was won by Wall Street in 2010.

Several other races are used to judge form, including the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas, the Group 1 Epsom Handicap, the Group 1 Flight Stakes, the Group 1 Thousand Guineas, and the Group 2 Edward Manifold Stakes.

Performance in the Emirates Stakes is also used to judge how horses may fare in following races. This includes the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes, the Group 3 Sandown Stakes, and the Group 2 Sandown Guineas held the following weekend. Indications may also be given as to likely chances in the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival which starts in February.

The race is limited to 16 runners with four emergencies and is now a quality handicap. What this means is that better performing horses are not weighted as heavily as in years past, which gives them a better chance of winning. Formerly, weights were chosen in order to give all entrants an even chance.

Field Selection

The final field is chosen by a ballot system in which factors are taken into account such as wins and places in certain lead up races, the amount of prize money collected in the two previous years, and the allocated handicap weight.

The odds on the Emirates Stakes are typically higher than on lower class races. Many of the runners will have met before in other races earlier on, and performance against each other in these races is likely to affect the odds. Furthermore, the odds will usually change after the barrier draw, since drawing an inside barrier is advantageous in the Emirates Stakes. There is only a short 200 metre straight before the long sweeping left hand turn into the final straight in this race.

Emirates Stakes Day is Red Rose day, and is also known as Family Day. It is not unusual for the event to draw a crowd of 80,000, and there are many attractions for young children. In 2004, an event known as Emirate Kids Fashions on the Field was started, so that even the children can have their own fashion parade.