John Letts Cup Race Information

The John Letts Cup is an 1800 metre set weights plus penalties race run by the South Australian Jockey Club in late October or early November. It is held at Morphettville as part of the Spring Racing Carnival.

  • Race Type: Listed
  • Distance: 1800 metres
  • Conditions: Set weights plus penalties
  • Track: Morphettville Racecourse, Adelaide, South Australia
  • Prizemoney: $100,000
  • Date: Saturday 31 October 2020
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John Letts Cup Race History

This race was run as the John Letts Cup for the first time in 2020 as it was previously called the Tokyo City Cup. It was first held as a Group 3 race over 1600m at Morphettville in 1995 when it was won by Springfield Lad ridden by Brian York and trained by John Meagher. In 2002 it was held over 1463m at Cheltenham. It was downgraded to its current Listed status in 2005,  and in 2011 the distance was increased to 1800m.

In July 2020, Thoroughbred Racing South Australia (TRSA) and the South Australian Jockey Club (SAJC) unveiled the new race names of six black-type South Australian races following a joint decision to honour some of South Australian racings greatest icons. The change of race name requests were voted on by the pattern committee and presented to Racing Australia for approval. Former jockeys John Letts and Clare Lindop, trainer Leon Macdonald, industry figure the late David Coles, galloper Tobin Bronze and stallion Without Fear now all have races named in their honour.

In 2020 the race was also moved from its traditional mid-to-late September date to the Saturday before the Melbourne Cup. It was previously programmed just three days after the Balaklava Cup, which is a 1600m race, while the new date put it two weeks after the Murray Bridge Cup, which is also a mile race, and gives a proper gap and progression for South Australian horses.

In 2019 Single Handed won for trainer Nick Smart which gave him his second winner of this race. It was more satisfying than his first win with Back On Target in 2015 as Amralah, trained by Robert Hickmott, was first past the post in 2015 but was later disqualified after returned a positive sample which contained the presence of dexamethasone, a substance prohibited under the Rules of Racing.

John Letts was one of South Australia’s favourite and most successful jockeys. His career spanned almost 30 years and comprised over 2300 winners, including a slew of feature races wins. He  won two Melbourne Cups (Piping Lane in 1972 and Beldale Ball in 1980), but also won many other top races, including three Adelaide Cups. In 1988 he retired as a jockey and became a prominent interviewer and media figure.

Useful Facts

Last mare to win: Quayside (2014)

Multiple winners: Dynamic Hero (2009 & 2010)

Fastest time (1800m): Quayside (2014) 1:48:25

Leading jockeys: Paul Gatt with 5 wins (Single Handed 2019; Brown Ben 2017; Sure Bet 2004; Border Time 2001; Graceful Encounter 1999).

Interesting trivia: Not run in 2007 due to equine influenza.

Past winners of the John Letts Cup

Winners of past John Letts Cup include middle-distance and staying types.

Year Winner Second Third
2020 Regalo Di Gaetano Blow Torch Danon Roman
2019 Single Handed Charossa Wasabi Bob
2018 Moss ‘N’ Dale Pretty Punk Brown Ben
2017 Brown Ben Jim’s Journey Kirona
2016 Raw Impulse Dandy Gent Yulong Baby
2015 Back On Target Pelicano Letmedowngently
2014 Quayside Held Hostage Road Trippin
2013 Star Rolling ‘Let’s Make Adeal Araldo
2012 Bagman Finiguerra Miss With Attitude
2011 Zauberin Silent Surround Raffaello
2010 Dynamic Hero Hastein Right Fong
2009 Dynamic Hero Finniss Storm Blue Maggich
2008 Capecover Dollops Verco Road
2007  ** Race not held **
2006 Terravue Aztec Smytzer Tremezzo
2005 Chickaloo Plans Juggle The Books
2004 Sure Bet Pure Velocity Rather Grand
2003 Milanova Furnish Daneforce
2002 Si Senor Exalted Lad King’s Haven
2001 Border TIme Real Time Exalted Lad
2000 Shining Path Border TIme Pestalozzi
1999 Graceful Encounter Honourable Mention Roralism
1998 Rustic Dream Cheval Place Dry Humour
1997 Voting Willy What Hero Wind
1996 Regal Half Zuccherino Idea
1995 Springhill Lad Mapperley’s Star Colbranat