Costa Rolfe



Bletchingly’s influence remains strong in race named in his honour

Some incredibly talented horses have won the event that carries Bletchingly's name, despite the winter sprint's somewhat awkward fixturing as the last Group race of the Australian season.

For a seemingly innocuous winter Group Three, the Bletchingly Stakes boasts an impressive – bordering on outrageous – honour role.

Frequently targeted as a kick-off point for horses destined to chase bigger spring riches, ten of the past 20 winners of Australia’s last Group race of the season have also registered victories at Group One level, with dual Group One-winner Sports also prevailing in 1999.

Prolific Group One winners in Apache Cat (eight G1 wins), Shoot Out (five), Regal Roller (three) sit alongside fellow elite performers Scales Of Justice, Vega Magic, Smokin’ Joey, Mid Summer Music, Let Go Thommo, Super Elegant and Rubitano.


Shoot Out won the 2010 Bletchingly first-up. (Photo by Robert Prezioso/Getty Images)

And it’s perhaps appropriate that a race named after the supremely talented Bletchingly, late winter ‘stepping-stone’ status or otherwise, should have so many high quality thoroughbreds associated with it.

A son of Biscay, Bletchingly himself was a genuine star. Anecdotes of the Angus Armanasco-trained entire’s untapped ability abound, the sprinter with a short thick neck and huge hindquarter seemingly capable of anything, if that powerful yet all-too-often susceptible frame allowed it. Continuous shin soreness, cracked sesamoids, bleeding attacks and myriad jaw problems limited Bletchingly to just five career starts, winning four of them, including his swansong in the AJC The Galaxy.

Bletchingly was a three-time Champion Sire. (Photo by

He proved a star at stud too upon retirement to Widden, his 63 stakeswinners surpassing both Biscay (40) and his legendary grandsire Star Kingdom (57), and helping him to three consecutive champion sire titles in the early 1980s. Best known as the sire of Kingston Town, the great racemare Emancipation and standout juvenile and influential sire Canny Lad were others of his progeny to shine on Australian racetracks. 

Of recent winners from the past 20 years, both Lord Of The Sky and the slightly-more-popular-amongst-punters grey Le Zagaletta were propelled by Bletchingly blood, as their respective dams’ grandsire. 

2016 winner Lord Of The Sky. (Photo by Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)

Though this Saturday’s Bletchingly field mirrors a recent drop-off in quality that the race has suffered, the ongoing influence of the stallion continues as he features in the pedigrees of five of the 10 starters: Scallopini, Sartorial Splendor, William Thomas, Oxley Road and King Of Sparta.       

As for any future Group One winners, it wouldn’t shock to see the Phillip Stokes-trained Mileva pick up an elite mares race at some stage should she continue to improve. She is the contender from Saturday’s race with considerable upside.

The Caulfield event has also attracted entries from dual Group One-winner Streets Of Avalon and enigmatic Caulfield Guineas runner-up Aysar, still searching for a stamp to a career in the breeding barn for his owners at Leneva Park.

But gone are the Bletchingly Stakes days, it would seem, where a galloper the ilk of Apache Cat could best a future Royal Ascot winner in Haradasun to kickstart a spring campaign. 



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