Toorak Handicap

The Toorak Handicap is a $350 000 Group 1 handicap for horses aged three years or older. It is run over 1600m at Caulfield each October.

It is a similar race to the Epsom Handicap held in Sydney a week before, and is more of a stepping stone to other races as opposed to a feature in its own right.

It was first run in 1881, and aside from one edition in 1891, it has always been run over 8 furlongs or 1600m under handicap conditions. In 1891, it was stretched to 9 furlongs (1800m).
Notable winners have included The Trump (1937), Saxony (1948, 1949), Desert Breeze (1952, 1953), Nicopolis (1963, 1964), Galilee (1966), Tobin Bronze (1967), Gunsynd (1971), Leilani (1974), Cole Diesel (1989), Umrum (1999, 2000), Regal Roller (2004) and More Joyous (2010).
In 2011, it was the Kiwi ironhorse King Mufhasa who held off King’s Rose and Luen Yat Forever, while 2012 saw the Queenslander Solzhenitsyn flash home to defeat Spirit Song and Yosei.

The most dominant lead up is the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m), held two to three weeks prior at Caulfield. Horses do also back up from the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m), while the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m), the Group 1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m), the Group 2 Shannon Stakes (1500m) and the Group 3 Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m) are other potential lead up races. It’s also not unheard of for horses to step out of restricted company to tackle the Toorak.

From here, there are many options. Obviously, the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) under similar conditions is an obvious target – although the Emirates tends to be much stronger. In fact, only five horses have won both races: Gold Salute (1940), Burberry (1943), Gunsynd (1971), All Shot (1972) and Magari (1982).

The Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) is another logical aim, but only Tobin Bronze (1967) has managed to do the double. The last Toorak Handicap winner to go to the Cox Plate was More Joyous in 2010, while Fields of Omagh was the last Cox Plate winner to run in the Toorak Handicap when second to Roman Arch in 2003.

The race also provides ballot exemption for the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m), but that means stepping up 800m within a week. The double has been achieved nine times, with Uncle Sam (1912), Textile (1927), The Trump (1937), Royal Gem (1946), Grey Boots (1950), Galilee (1966), Tobin Bronze (1967), Leilani (1974) and Cole Diesel (1989). The last Toorak Handicap winner to run in the Caulfield Cup was Allez Wonder in 2009.