|Class||WFA, 3YO & above|
|2017 winner||Bonneval ($4.80)
The Underwood Stakes is held over 1,800 metres at Caulfield Racecourse in late September. While it is a Group One race with an impressive prize purse of $750,000, it is also a race that is used as a lead-up for two of the feature spring races, the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate.
The distance of 1,800 metres is an unusual one in Australian racing and part of what makes this race unique.
A little longer than a mile, but also shorter than a mile and a quarter, the 1,800 metre start at Caulfield allows for a fairly long straight run before the horses and their jockeys hit the first turn. Therefore, experienced jockeys shouldn't get caught three and four-wide, all but spelling the end to their mount's winning chances..
A WFA race run at a similar distance to the Cox Plate, the Underwood looms as a natural lead-up and form guide to Australia's weight-for-age championship.
However, the winner of the Underwood gains exemption from a ballot in the Caulfield Cup, which is run over 2,400 at the same track, typically three wakes later. Therefore, a dominant performance in the Underwood will often suggest that the horse has a better than fair chance of claiming the Caulfield Cup.
As with most WFA Group Ones, the Underwood boasts a star-studded honour roll of past victors. Since the first running of the race in 1924, Phar Lap, Ajax, Octagonal, Northerly and So You Think have been first past the post.
In the 2017 edition of the Underwood, it was Kiwi legend trainer Murray Baker who prepared Bonneval to perfection.
The New Zealand mare got the better of Hartnell and Gailo Chop with a barnstorming run down the centre of the track. To relive the win, watch below.