Doncaster Handicap 1974

Doncaster Handicap 1974

With the running of the 2019 Doncaster Handicap a few shortening days away this is timely? It might have been the most sensational Doncaster Handicap ever run; and not for all the right reasons!

Featured Image: The unofficial close photo finish of the Doncaster Handicap in 1974 captured by renowned race photographer Ron Bickley (C J Bickley & Sons, Rozelle); who may have been forewarned? It could have been a setup; as most such bold and brassy aberrations are. The banal bar room verdict recorded that the colt won ‘by a good length’? Sorry! The identity of the daring participants is unknown.

This created a sensation at the time when ‘streaking’ was all the rage. Shortly after this photograph was taken Showdown gelding ‘Tontonan’ was the first (equine) past the post and declared the official winner. Roy Higgins was astride ‘Tontonan’ who won from ‘Toltrice’ and ‘Coolalinga’ by one and half lengths in a weight carrying record for a 3 year old (56 kg) on a soft track.

Can you believe I was there that day close to the winning post and entirely oblivious to the drama taking place? I was watching the horses! Certainly an inchoate ‘buzz’ was discernible in the crowd but it went largely unnoticed by the majority.

The Doncaster Mile, registered as the Doncaster Handicap is an Australian Turf Club Group One Thoroughbred handicap race for horses three years old and older, held over 1,600 metres at Royal Randwick Racecourse. Although the race has traditionally been held on Easter Monday, the race is now run on the first day of the ATC Championships Carnival at Royal Randwick. Total prize money in 2019 is A$3,000,000.


The inaugural running of the Doncaster Handicap was in 1866. The 1892 running of the race attracted a record 30 starters. In 1930 the race was marred by a tragic fall 1 12 furlongs from the winning post when one of the favourites fell and another was destroyed.

Many great horses have won the race, including several who have also won the spring equivalent, the Epsom Handicap, while Super Impose created history in 1990 and 1991 by becoming the only horse to win both races on two occasions.

Legendary trainer T.J. Smith won the race seven times.

The record time for the race was set by Belmura Lad in 1979 with a time of 1:33.70.

In 2005 trainer Guy Walter trained the trifecta in this race with Patezza (1st), Courts In Session (2nd) and Danni Martine (3rd). It was the first time that this has been achieved.