Ablaze and John Allen return to scale after their Jericho Cup win. Image: Racing Photos

Countdown begins to the 2020 Jericho Cup

The countdown to the third edition of Australia’s longest flat race, the Jericho Cup, has commenced with the confirmation of its 2020 date and the qualifying races guaranteeing an automatic start.

The race, which commemorates Australian and New Zealand’s light horse involvement in World War 1, is run on the fourth Sunday after the Melbourne Cup which sees it fall on the final weekend in November for the first time where it will bring an action-packed spring racing program in Victoria to its conclusion.

The 4600m flat race, which is open to Australian and New Zealand-bred horses only, will again be held over the unique jumps course at Warrnambool Racecourse on Sunday, 29 November.

With a capacity field of 14 runners, it will be conducted under Benchmark 90 handicap conditions with licensed jumps jockeys in the saddle and will again offer $304,000 in prizemoney.

The reincarnation of the Jericho Cup – first run on the desert sands of Palestine just outside the city of Jericho in 1918 – has proven a huge hit in its first two years as the racing industry gathers to remember and celebrate the light horsemens’ bravery and achievements.

The 2018 edition, launched to mark the centenary of the original Jericho Cup, was taken out by the Anthony Freedman-trained and Clayton Douglas-ridden High Mode.

The Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Ablaze took out the second turf edition in 2019 before going on to complete a prized Warrnambool double with victory in the Grand Annual Steeplechase (5500m) last month.

The first Australasian-bred horse over the line in each of the following eight ‘guaranteed start’ races across Australia and New Zealand will gain automatic entry into the 2020 Jericho Cup should they nominate and accept:

  1. Jericho Cup Consolation Race (4065m), Warrnambool 1 December 2019 – won by Californiagrandcru
  2. BM74 (3800m) – Wagga Wagga (NSW), 9 August 2020
  3. BM82 (3210m) – New Plymouth (NZ), 26 September 2020
  4. BM75 (3350m) – Mt Gambier (SA), 27 September 2020
  5. BM75 (3340m) – Gawler (SA), 23 October 2020
  6. BM82 (3000m) – Riccarton Park (NZ), 24 October 2020
  7. BM78 (3800m) – Moonee Valley (VIC), 13 November 2020
  8. BM85 (3400m) – Thoroughbred Park (ACT), 15 November 2020

In addition to offering a guaranteed start in the 2020 Jericho Cup, eligible placegetters in the eight races will also receive double qualifying points for the 2020 Jericho Cup to assist in their pursuit of a start.

The final field for the endurance test will be determined according to total qualifying points accrued, after allowing for any guaranteed starters.

Since 17 November 2019, the first three Australasian-bred horses over the line in any flat race of 3000m or further at an Australian and New Zealand TAB meeting have been accruing points on a 3-2-1 basis.

With 16 eligible races conducted since that time, the Cliff Murray-trained Alienated currently leads the race for a start in the 2020 Jericho Cup with seven points ahead of Count Zero (Simon Wilde) and Ablaze (Maher & Eustace) with six points. To view the full points table click here.

It has also been announced today that prizemoney for the Jericho Cup consolation has been boosted to $60,000 with a $20,000 VOBIS Gold bonus also on offer.

If there are sufficient acceptors, the consolation race will be run for those who do not gain a start in the main event. If conducted, it will also offer the winner a guaranteed start in the 2021 feature.

Managing Director and Founder of the Jericho Cup, Bill Gibbins, has also announced that the race meeting will again carry a $25,000 bonus for the trainer with the smallest stable of registered runners to secure a victory on the day.

Mr Gibbins said, “The Jericho Cup is a race like no other. It’s about horsemanship, bravery, camaraderie, a real celebration of the history and foundation of our country. The Jericho Cup not only commemorates our wonderful light horsemen, it allows us to learn about the history of many of our current industry participants. They were horsemen 100 years ago and many are still horsemen today.

“The countdown is now on to our third Jericho Cup at Warrnambool on Sunday, 29 November and I can’t wait. I hope that owners and trainers across Australia and New Zealand have their horses ready and with the confirmation of the guaranteed start races they can now start plotting their path to the Cup.

“Don’t forget there’s the consolation also which we’ve increased to $60,000 plus a VOBIS Gold bonus this year. On top of that you have the added sweetener of the guaranteed start in the 2021 Jericho Cup if you win the consolation.

“We’re delighted to again offer our trainers bonus. The Australian racing industry is where it is today on the back of those thousands of small aspiring trainers, forever looking for that elusive champion. Over the years many have tried, but very few have realised that dream. That doesn’t dim their enthusiasm for the sport and the horse and we want to reward that.

“Hopefully this bonus will give the smaller guys something to aim at. Any race on the program, including the Jericho Cup, can be their ‘grand final’ and I would urge all small trainers to study the whole card and see if anything slots in for their ‘stable champ’. This bonus can only raise the quality and quantity of runners on the day and make for an even greater days racing.”

RV Executive General Manager Racing, Greg Carpenter, said, “The Jericho Cup, now in its third year, continues to go from strength to strength thanks to the significant efforts of Bill Gibbins who is committed to honouring the efforts of Australian and New Zealand’s light horse involvement in World War 1.

“While the feature race is still over five months away, I will be watching with interest which promising stayers are able to secure their spot via the upcoming guaranteed start races here in Australia and across the Tasman.

“Whilst there is no certainty at this time, we remain hopeful that crowds will be permitted to attend the Jericho Cup in some capacity and we’ll be working closely with Bill and the Warrnambool Racing Club on that in the months ahead.”