Ten fun facts about the Sapling Stakes

With the $50,000 Sheep Milk NZ Sapling Stakes (Group Two) the big feature at Sunday's meeting at Ashburton here are 10 Fun Facts about the race. The Sapling Stakes is race 8 at 3.18pm.

1. The Sapling Stakes is the longest surviving juvenile feature in New Zealand and has always been held at Ashburton, except for 1940 when it held at Addington. It was not held in 1990 because there were 18 nominations but only five paid up.

2. The time-honoured Group race for the two-year-olds has been going ever since 1919 when Doraldina won the one and a half mile (2414m) on 3:35.2. The second running of the race in 1920 attracted 100 nominations!

3. Named after a young tree the "Sapling" stakes are for two-year-old horses only. Sapling is also the name given to young greyhounds.

4.The Sapling Stakes is currently a Group Three race, and was given group One status in 1980 and 81, with Cigar winning by the largest margin, 10 lengths in 1998.

5. The race went from 2400 metres to the mile (1609m) in 1999, when Holm For Xmas won for trainer Fred Morris and driver Kerry Hadfield. The winning time was 1:57.2

6. The race record was set by Follow The Stars in 2014. Driven and co-trained by Mark Purdon (along with Natalie Rasmussen) the son of Art Major produced a big finish to win in 1:53.8

7. Champion driver Blair Orange is going for win number 7 when he partners with Vinke B on Sunday. His winning run started with Lennon in 2003 and his latest victory was with Krug in 2020.

8. There was a Dunn quinella in 2017 when the Geoff Dunn-trained Cole Porter won with The Brooklyn Brawler, trained by brother Robert Dunn, running second.

9. Last year saw one of the big upsets in the race when the Gavin Smith trained and driven My Ultimate Chevron won, paying $42.90 and $7.30. The horse was 7/7 in the betting in an eight-horse field and was on debut. Other winners on debut include Misjudge (2001) and Sir Clive (2008).

10. Three-time New Zealand Cup champion Terror To Love won the race in 2010. Driven by Jim Curtin Terror To Love's winning time was 1:58.4. Other horses that won the Sapling Stakes and went on to win the New Zealand Cup include Inky Lord (1988), Lordship (1961) and Ahuriri (1922).

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