As the first Group race of the new racing season in Victoria, this event has a level of importance. It tends to signify the emergence of the spring horses and is held to honour the memory of Aurie’s Star – one of the great horses to have raced at Flemington on the 1930’s. It was first run in 1974 when it was a mid-week sprint. 1979 Melbourne Cup winner Hyperno had his first run of the season in the Aurie’s Star Handicap at Flemington in August 1979 and Bart Cummings also used it as a first run towards the Melbourne Cup with Rogan Josh twenty years later. In 2002 it was moved from the final Wednesday in August to the second Sunday in August and was the spring launch race for horses like Fields Of Omagh, Magical Miss, Roman Arch, Niconero, Valedictum and El Segundo.
It was an unlisted handicap before it became a Listed race in 2005, was moved to Saturday in 2006, then it was upgraded to a Group 3 race in 2010. It is held up the Flemington straight, apart from 2007 when it was held at Moonee Valley while Flemington was being renovated.
Who was Aurie’s Star ?
Aurie’s Star was foaled in 1932 by Stardrift from a mare called Aurie Anton. He was a sprint star who often carried massive weights and was trained in South Australia.
He won the 1937 Oakleigh Plate by 5 lengths in record time then in the autumn he won the Newmarket Handicap making him the fourth horse to complete the double. He won the Oakleigh Plate a second time in 1939 as a six-year-old and was the first horse to win that race more than once. Since then only Dual Choice (1972 & 1973) has done it.
In 1940 he won South Australia’s major sprint, the Goodwood Handicap carrying 10 stone (about 63.5 kg).
The next season he set a new record for the Flemington “straight six”of 1:08.25 carrying 64kg. That record stood until Gold Ace ran 1:07.5 in 1996.
Aurie’s Star died on April 30 1952 at the property he was retired to.
Aurie’s Star Handicap Facts
Last mare to win: Hula Wonder (1999)
Last 3YO to win: C&G – none ; Filly – none
Multiple winners: No horse has won the Aurie’s Star Handicap more than once
Fastest time (1200m): Shiraz (2015) 1:09:43
Leading jockeys: Damien Oliver with 5 wins (Home Of The Brave 2020, Voodoo Lad 2018, Shiraz 2015, Tiger Tees 2014. Mic Mac 2009)
Interesting trivia: In the past the race was often used by stayers starting their campaign but now tends to be targeted by sprinters, which is more fitting considering Aurie’s Star was a great sprinter.
Past winners of the Aurie’s Star Handicap
Winners of past Aurie’s Star Handicaps include horses that go on to win major spring races.