The Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) is the feature race of the Sydney Spring Carnival and will be run and won at Royal Randwick on Saturday afternoon.
The Epsom Handicap has been won by some of Australia’s best milers and middle-distance horses since the turn of the century including equine superstar Winx in 2015; her fourth win in a streak that now spans twenty starts.
Consistent gelding Happy Clapper is the early favourite to join an outstanding list of Epsom Handicap winners at Royal Randwick this weekend, but he will need to produce a career-best performance to overcome the likes of Egg Tart, Comin’ Through and Tom Melbourne.
2016 – Hauraki
Godolphin gelding Hauraki was several times placed at the highest level of racing before finally breaking through for his maiden win amongst Group 1 company in last year’s Epsom Handicap. The son of Reset was settled at the tail of the Epsom Handicap field by jockey James McDonald as Fabrizio took up the running and set a break-neck early tempo. Faced with almost too much to do upon arriving at the final straight, Hauraki mustered a turn of foot for the ages and flew home to beat Dibyani on the line, in what was undoubtedly one of the season’s standout performances.
2015 – Winx
Equine superstar Winx has posted twenty-consecutive race wins, twelve of which at the highest level, but her second Group 1 triumph came via a dominant performance in the 2015 Epsom Handicap. The daughter of Street Cry was settled just worse than mid-field by Hugh Bowman, but the odds were against her almost instantly when caught three-wide in transit without cover. Finding a clear racing line with 300m to travel, Winx produced her signature turn of foot to comfortably beat Ecuador and Sons Of John.
2014 – He’s Your Man
He’s Your Man found career-best form during the 2014 Spring Carnival; posting three wins and as many minors through six starts, highlighted by a last-gasp win in the Epsom Handicap. The French import jumped from the gates only fairly and was settled in the second-half of the Epsom Handicap field by Joao Moreira, on the outside of the pack. Stalking the lead pack into the final straight, the Cape Cross gelding took the entire length of the straight, but bobbed his head at the right time to beat Royal Descent in a photo.
2013 – Boban
Multiple Group 1 winner Boban was a strong and consistent performer throughout his entire racing career, but posted five wins from as many starts during the 2013 Spring Carnival, including an exciting triumph in the Epsom Handicap. Ecuador took up the running in the feature race, while Boban was caught wide and towards the rear of the talent-rich field of milers. Experiencing a torrid run in transit to say the least, the Bernardini gelding was pulled into the middle of the track by Glyn Schofield before mustering a massive turn of foot.
2012 – Fat Al
Fat All took advantage of an ideal barrier and jump to record a smart win in the 2012 Epsom Handicap. The Al Maher gelding was backed into outright favouritism in the hours leading up to jump and did his chances of justifying the trend no harm when immediately taking up the running alongside Rolling Pin. Experiencing a carefree run on pace, Fat Al kicked clear in the final straight and always looked the winner.
2011 – Secret Admirer
A talent-rich field of seventeen milers stepped out in the 2011 Epsom Handicap, but classy mare Secret Admirer proved too strong on the day and posted the second Group 1 win of her glittering career. Jockey Brenton Avdulla elected to take a position at the tail of the field aboard Secret Admirer, allowing the likes of King Lionheart and Red Tracer to trade early blows on pace. Working into the race as the field straightened, the Dubawi mare found the lead with 100m and savaged the line.
2010 – Captain Sonador
Glen Boss had not ridden Captain Sonador prior to the 2010 Epsom Handicap, but got the affiliation off to the best possible start when piloting the talented gelding to success in the feature race. Captain Sonador settled mid-pack as Prince Braeman, Bay Window and Returntosender dictated the early terms. Finding a gap between runners early in the final straight, the Shamardal entire powered to the lead; maintaining a strong enough sprint to the line to withstand the claims of a fast-finishing Trusting.
2009 – Rock Kingdom
Rock Kingdom’s class was on show at Royal Randwick in early October 2009, when he waded through a heavy track to beat Rangirangdoo in the Epsom Handicap. The Rock Of Gibraltar gelding enjoyed a reasonably carefree run in transit within the Epsom Handicap field and found a lovely gap between runners as the field straightened; opening a big-enough gap in the final 200m to withstand a late charge from Chris Waller’s stable star.
2008 – Theseo
Theseo posted five Group 1 wins throughout his racing career, but first broke through at the highest level in the 2008 Epsom Handicap. Charged with overcoming the wide and awkward barrier 18, Theseo jumped well and found little issue in crossing the field; finally settling in an ideal position on the heels of early leader and stable mate Bank Robber. Allowing Bank Robber a start of more than four lengths upon arriving at the final straight, the Danewin gelding immediately responded when asked for an extra effort by Zac Purton; finding the lead in the final 100m and extended to win the race by close to two lengths.
2007 – Race Not Held
Due to the outbreak of Equine Influencer, the 2007 Epsom Handicap was cancelled. In 2006, Racing To Win posted a second-consecutive Group 1 title and the fourth of his career in the Epsom Handicap, while middle-distance champion Desert War won the race in both 2004 and 2005.