Turnbull Stakes

The Turnbull Stakes is a $500 000 Group 1 set weights and penalties race for horses aged four years and older. It is run over 2000m at Flemington every October.

It is considered a primary lead up to the three big features – the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) two weeks later, the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) three weeks later, and ultimately, the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m)

The race now known as the Turnbull Stakes has had a number of reincarnations, and it has quite a confusing history. It was first run as the Royal Park Stakes in 1865, as a weight for age (plus penalties and allowances) contest over 16 furlongs (3200m). It was reduced to 13 furlongs (2600m) in 1891, before coming back even further to 12 furlongs (2400m) in 1892. In 1895, the name of the race was changed to the September Stakes and the distance reduced to 10 furlongs (2000m). The race name was changed again in 1898, this time to the October Stakes.
The October Stakes would remain unchanged as a 10 furlong weight for age (plus penalties and allowances) contest until 1916, when the distance was increased to 12 furlongs. In 1923, it became 10 furlongs again, before it was reduced to 9 furlongs (1800m) in 1924 and 8 furlongs (1600m) in 1925. In 1946, it was decided the race would adopt the Melbourne Stakes moniker formerly associated with the race now known as the Mackinnon Stakes, before it finally was named the Turnbull Stakes in 1948.

However, more changes were still on the agenda. When renaming the race the Turnbull Stakes, it was decided to change the race completely. It became a 12 furlong handicap, which it remained until 1963. From 1964, it was changed to weight for age. Finally, in 1970, it became a set weights and penalties race over 10 furlongs or 2000m – the race we know it as today.
Upon the introduction of the Group system in 1979, it was rated a Group 2 race. It remained at Group 2 level until 2006, when it was elevated to Group 1 status.

The race is named for former VRC chairman Richard Turnbull, who became the first incumbent chairman to win a Melbourne Cup when Sirius won the race in 1944.

The honour roll for the Turnbull Stakes is long and distinguished. Some of the most famous winners include Wakeful (1903), Eurythmic (1920), Manfred (1926), Amounis (1930), Hall Mark (1934), Ajax (1938, 1940), Bernborough (1946), Comic Court (1949, 1950), Rising Fast (1954), Redcraze (1955), Tobin Bronze (1966), Galilee (1968), Leilani (1974), Dulcify (1979), Vo Rogue (1987, 1988), Super Impose (1989), Better Loosen Up (1990), Let’s Elope (1991), Doriemus (1996), Sunline (2001), Northerly (2002), Elvstroem (2004), Makybe Diva (2005) and Green Moon (2012).

In 2011, imports December Draw and Glass Harmonium hit the line locked together, with the former getting the decision, while 2012 saw eventual Melbourne Cup winner Green Moon defeat his stablemate Seville.

The Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) is the best lead up for the Turnbull Stakes, while the Group 2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) and the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) are other key form guides.