The Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes is a $350 000 Group 1 handicap for horses aged three years or older. It is run over 1400m at Caulfield each September.
It has had a number of different names over the years. It was first run as the Invitation Stakes from 1951 to 1974, before adopting the Marlboro Cup name in 1975 – it would remain the Marlboro Cup until 1988. Other names have included the Show Day Cup (1989-1991), the Vichealth Cup (1992-1999), the Eat Well Live Cup (2000-2001) and the Dubai Racing Club Cup (2002-2005).
It finally became the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes in 2006, in honour of the former chairman of the Victoria Amateur Turf Club. Sir Rupert Clarke was the VATC’s chairman from 1972 to 1989, while he was on the club’s board for almost 40 years.
Notable winners have included Cap D’Antibes (1975), Canny Lass (1986), Rancho Ruler (1988), Mannerism (1992), Testa Rossa (1999, 2000), Regal Roller (2004) and Barely A Moment (2005).
Three year olds have done well in the race in recent years, with the weight advantage proving crucial. In the past 20 years, Our Maizcay (1995), Encosta de Lago (1996), Testa Rossa (1999) and Exceed and Excel (2003) have won for the younger brigade.
In 2011, Toorak Toff led home a rare quinella for Rick Hore-Lacy from Pinnacles and Master of Design, while 2012 saw Moment of Change defeat We’re Gonna Rock and Solzhenitsyn.
Typically, the best lead up race for the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes is the Group 3 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) down the straight six at Flemington. Other good lead up races include the Group 2 Let’s Elope Stakes (1400m) at Flemington, the Group 2 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield and the Group 3 Tramway Handicap (1400m) at Warwick Farm.
The most common route for horses after the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes is to head to the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m).