The Middle Park Stakes is the "masculine" equivalent of the Cheveley Park Stakes, which is the most prestigious fillies' event held annually at Newmarket Racecourse. Like its sister event, it is scheduled for the last day of the Cambridgeshire Meeting. This is a three day racing festival held at the racecourse. Alongside the Cheveley Park Stakes, the Middle Park Stakes is the most anticipated juvenile event of its kind in the Newmarket season.
The Middle Park Stakes is a straight, six furlong sprint held on the Rowley Mile Course at Newmarket. It is a flat race open to two-year-old colts only and is considered the non-official practice race for future contenders in the 2,000 Guineas Stakes, the first leg of the Triple Crown series for three-year-olds. The weight requirement for each horse in this race is nine stones.
Location: Newmarket Racecourse
Grade: Group 1
Race Type: Flat
This race was established in 1866 and was originally known as the Middle Park Plate. The founder, William Blenkiron, named the race after a stud he kept in Kent. During its first years of running, the race was open to juveniles of both sexes. Since 1987, the six furlongs of the Middle Park Stakes have been run by colts only. The contenders race for a purse of £213,500. This is a high prize up for grabs at a juvenile only event (as of 2017).
Since it was established in 1866, the Middle Park Stakes has grown in prestige and profit potential making it a prime target for the best sprinters in the world. Below are the current records for fastest time, most successful jockey and trainer (as of 2017).
The fastest thoroughbred to win the Middle Park Stakes is 2008 winner Bushranger with a time of 1m: 09.56sec replacing the 2002 course record, set by Oasis Dream, of 1m: 09.61sec.
Currently, the jockeys tied for the honour of having the most wins (six each) include Danny Maher from 1901 to 1913, Sir Gordon Richards from 1933 to 1953 and Lester Piggott from 1967 to 1982.
2017 was a momentous year for the race with a new record set for most successful trainer. Formerly, eight trainers tied for this honour with four wins apiece. Aidan O'Brien was on that list for his victories with Mindari in 2000, Johannesburg in 2001, Ad Valorem in 2004 and Crusade in 2011. Due to the 2017 victory with US Flag, O'Brien is officially the most successful trainer in the history of the race with five wins.
In its long history, the Middle Park Stakes has attracted top sprinters to compete, some of which can also claim to also have won English Classics. Below are a few of the best Middle Park moments (as of 2017).
Prince Charlie won the 1871 Middle Park Stakes, then won the 2000 Guineas in the same season. He was the first to do so, and this feat raised the prestige of the sprint itself. The most recent thoroughbred to accomplish the same is Rodrigo de Triano who won the Middle Park in 1991, then the 2000 Guineas in 1992.
One of the strongest fillies to compete in the race is the 1883 winner Busybody who went on to win the 1000 Guineas and Epsom Oaks further solidifying the prestige of the race and perceived quality of its competitors. However, the 1903 winner Pretty Polly stands out as the best filly to run the race in its history with the Middle Park Stakes one of her undefeated nine-win streak as a two-year-old.
In 2017, US Navy Flag joined the elite honour roll of horses to win both the Middle Park Stakes and Dewhurst Stakes. He is only the tenth to have done so in the history of both races. In addition, he set a new course record for the 7f Dewhurst Stakes with a time of 1m: 22.37sec.