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The C F Orr Stakes is always an exciting and keenly anticipated race. This is because it is the first Group One race of the calendar year, and marks the start of the return of the highest calibre of horses and racing.
The race is named after Charles Orr, a former chairman of the Williamstown racing club. He would've been pleased to see what a cracking race the C F Orr Stakes has become. From its first running in 1925 at Williamstown Racecourse, the race has evolved and become a staple on the Australian racing calendar.
There have been plenty of highlights over the years, but some of the absolute great winners include Tobin Bronze in 1967, Saintly in 1997 and Black Caviar in 2012. There have also been two hat-trick winners, with Manikato taking out the C F Orr from 1979 to 1981, and Vo Rogue doing the triple in 1988, 1989 and 1990.
What the keenest students of Australian racing history will observe is that this list contains a mixture of sprinters, middle-distance specialists and stayers. That's part of what makes the C F Orr Stakes such an exciting race.
Because it is the first Group One of the season, the C F Orr Stakes regularly sees the very best middle distance and staying horses resume for the first start of their Autumn campaigns. Mixed in with these top notch horses are the gun sprinters whose trainers think their speed will be too much for the resuming horses to handle.
While it's can be tricky to pick the winner with little form to go on, the C F Orr Stakes becomes a fantastic form guide for the upcoming Autumn Carnival. After their spells over summer, the horses whose minds are back on the job will run well here, and go on to have good carnivals.
Last year's edition of the race saw a thrilling finish, with Hartnell timing his run perfectly to narrowly pip the fast finishing Single Gaze and Brave Smash.
It was the definition of a blanket finish, with the top four horses only separated by a head on the winning post, in what will go down as one of the most thrilling editions ever.