See the 2020 Hotham Handicap Preview
This is a very important race for horses that are still trying to obtain a Melbourne Cup run, as it is the last chance to be exempt from the ballot. This means if the winner has nominated for the Melbourne they will gain automatic entry even if they were at the bottom of the order of entry. It also means they will only have a three day break between runs.
The race has a long history as it was first run in 1869 as a Principal Race over 1.5 miles (about 2400m) when it was won by a horse called Aurora. In 1972 it became the current distance of 2500m. In 1979 it became a Group 3 race and the name was changed from the Hotham Handicap to The Dalgety, then in 1981 it was upgraded to a Group 2 race. It had many name changes – Crown Quality (1994-1995), Ten News Stakes (1996), Lean Cuisine Quality (1997). Saab Quality (1998-2008), Lexus Stakes (2009-2018) and Lexus Hotham Handicap (from 2019) recognising its original name. In 2005 it was downgraded to the current Group 3 status.
In recent years the international horses have gone well in this race as they try and boost their Melbourne Cup hopes. It is held on Victoria Derby day where all nine races are Group races. The headline race is the Group 1 Victoria Derby but there are three other Group 1 races – the Coolmore Stud Stakes, the Kennedy Cantala Stakes and the Empire Rose Stakes, two Group 2 races – the Wakeful Stakes and the Linlithgow Stakes, and two other Group 3 races – the Carbine Club Stakes and the Begonia Belle Stakes.
Lead-up races include the Geelong Cup, ATC ST Leger Stakes, Moonee Valley Gold Cup, The Bart Cummings and races like the Cranbourne Cup.