Toward the end of August each year, the Goodwood Racecourse puts together a two-day celebration of horse racing and summer fun for families known as the August Bank Holiday Weekend. The first day of the meeting, Saturday, features one of Goodwood’s best races of the season, the Group 2 Celebration Mile, and accompanying it is another much anticipated event—the Group 3 Prestige Stakes.
This £50,000 sprint covers a distance of seven furlongs on the right-handed turf of the Goodwood track. The event is open only to two-year-old Thoroughbred fillies. They each carry a weight of nine stone even, with a five-pound penalty applied to previous Group 1 or Group 2 winners and three pounds added to any prior Group 3 winners.
When the event was inaugurated in 1974, it was called the Globtik Stakes. A year later, the name was changed to the Waterford Candelabra Stakes. Originally classified at the Listed level, the race was promoted to its current Group 3 status in 1981 and given its present title in 1989, when Black Bottle Scotch Whisky was the sponsor.
In the 1990s, sponsors included Teacher’s Whisky, Butlin’s Southcoast World and Crowson. In 1999, the event was known as the “The Link - The Easy Route To The Right Mobile Phone - Prestige Fillies Stakes.” After the turn of the new millennium, the race’s title was assumed in turn by ATS Euromaster, Touchdown In Malaysia, Malaysia Airlines Non Stop, Citroen, Sixty Years On, Normandie Stud, totescoop6, toteswinger, Berry Brothers and Rudd, and Chichester Observer.
Fillies that succeed in the Prestige Stakes often have short racing careers. Their owners may run them only a few more times before looking for greater value as broodmares. In 2003, the Irish bay Gracefully made this her third victory in a row and then participated in only one more race before retirement. Likewise, the 2007 winner, Sense of Joy, went straight to the farm after her victory here.
Those horses that do move on from the Prestige Stakes often compete in the following month’s Group 1 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket. The most recent filly to capture both events was Nannina in 2005. The feat was also accomplished by Invited Guest in 1986 and Gossamer in 2001.
Among jockeys, Pat Eddery’s four wins here have put him ahead of all other riders for the past two decades. He got his first victory with One Over Parr in 1974, followed by wins aboard Fairy Footsteps in 1980, Stratospheric in 1981 and Musicale in 1991. His nearest competition, Steve Cauthen, retired with only three winners, and no other active rider currently has more than two.
Henry Cecil has more Prestige Stakes wins than any other trainer with six, including both Fairy Footsteps and Musicale. He got the other four with Cappuccilli in 1975, Formulate in 1978, Moon Cactus in 1989 and Midnight Line in 1997. With four triumphs of his own between 1985 and 2009, Barry Hills is Cecil’s nearest rival.
Bookmakers have a pretty good read on this race since the turn of the new millennium. Over the past decade, they correctly identified half of the winners as favourites, including Gossamer at 5/4, Geminiani at 3/1 in 2002, Sense Of Joy at 4/7, Fantasia at 9/4 in 2008 and Theyskens’ Theory at 11/10 in 2010. The one time they missed badly was in 2004, when Dubai Surprise lived up to her name by delivering at a totally unexpected 16/1.