The Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket is widely regarded as the most important two-year-old race of the season. The winner is frequently installed as the winter favourite for the 2000 Guineas with Churchill (2016) the most recent colt to win both races. Other notable Dewhurst winners include racing legends Nijinsky (1969), Mill Reef (1970) and Frankel (2010) plus a host of other subsequent Classic winners.
The Dewhurst Stakes is over seven furlongs at Newmarket in October. It always attracts a top quality field and there are seldom excuses for beaten horses on the wide expanse of Newmarket heath. Although a win here does not guarantee that a horse will stay a mile as a three-year-old, most have gone on to do so. Sir Percy (2005) and New Approach (2007) are among those who went on to win the Epsom Derby over a mile and a half.
Famous Dewhurst Stakes Winners & History
The Dewhurst Stakes is named after the Dewhurst Stud at Wadhurst and was first run in 1875. The inaugural running was won by Kisber, the first of four successive winners to go on to win at least one Classic the following season. The high quality of the Dewhurst has been maintained ever since with Ormonde (1885), Orme (1891), Rock Sand (1902), Hyperion (1932), Pinza (1952) and Crepello (1956) among the early winners.
The victory of Nijinsky in 1969 launched a golden age for the Dewhurst. Vincent O’Brien’s colt remains the last horse to win the English Triple Crown of 2000 Guineas, Derby and St Leger. He was followed by another racing legend in Mill Reef (1970), the winner of the Epsom Derby, the Eclipse, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the King George among others. Mill Reef also attracted the attention of the wider public when he bravely recovered from a life-threatening injury to become a leading stallion.
1974 winner Grundy, aside from winning the Irish 2000 Guineas, Irish Derby and Epsom Derby, is best remembered for his epic victory in the King George. Wollow (1975) and The Minstrel (1976) both went on to Classic glory. Throughout the seventies and eighties, Vincent O’Brien hit the headlines in this race with potential superstars, some more successful than others.
Try My Best (1977) and Storm Bird (1980) were not able to reproduce their brilliant Dewhurst form but El Gran Senor (1983) certainly did. He won one of the hottest 2000 Guineas in living memory the following season and later added the Irish Derby. Many still maintain that he ought to have won the Epsom Derby when just denied by Secreto in a photo-finish.
Further champions emerged from this race in the 1990’s including Derby winners Generous (1990) and Dr Devious (1991) and 2000 Guineas winners Zafonic (1992) and Pennekamp (1994). Rock of Gibraltar (2001), Shamardal (2004) and Frankel (2010) later added their names to the impressive roll of honour.
Key Dewhurst Stakes Trials
The National Stakes at the Curragh has proved to be the most influential trial for the Dewhurst Stakes in recent years. The race has produced six of the last twelve winners here, five of them completing the double; Dawn Approach (2012), Air Force Blue (2015), Churchill (2016), Pinatubo (2019) and Native Trail (2021).
Dewhurst Stakes Betting Trends
The form book has been vindicated in the Dewhurst Stakes with eight winning favourites in the past 12 years. Seven of those started odds on, notably Frankel (2010) at 4-6, Dawn Approach (2012) at 30-100 and Pinatubo (2019) at 1-3. The only winning favourite during that time who was not odds-on was Too Darn Hot (2018) who returned at even money.
Parish Hall was the only real shock result when scoring for Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning at 20-1 in 2011. Belardo (2014) and St Mark’s Basilica (2020) both returned at 10-1 while U S Navy Flag started 5-1 second favourite in 2017.
Dewhurst Stakes Stats
Nine of the last twelve winners had been successful on their previous outing. All but one of those twelve had at least one previous race over seven furlongs with nine of them having a victory at that distance. The same number had at least one victory in a Group 1 to 3 race prior to winning the Dewhurst Stakes. A rating of 116 or higher is usually required to win this race. The highest officially rated winner going into this race in recent years was Pinatubo (128) in 2019.
Top Trainers and Jockeys
The honour of being leading trainer in the history of the Dewhurst Stakes is currently shared by John Porter and Frank Butters (8 wins apiece). Aidan O’Brien needs one more winner to join them on that mark. His seven previous winners were Rock of Gibraltar (2001), Beethoven (2009), War Command (2013), Air Force Blue (2015), Churchill (2016), U S Navy Flag (2017) and St Mark’s Basilica (2020). Rock of Gibraltar and Churchill both went on to win the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket while St Mark’s Basilica won the French Guineas.
Jim Bolger trained the winner five times between 2006 and 2012 including subsequent Classic winners New Approach (2007) and Dawn Approach (2012). Charlie Appleby has won two of the last three renewals with Pinatubo (2019) and Native Trail (2021).
Lester Piggott rode a phenomenal ten Dewhurst Stakes winners between 1956 and 1982 including Crepello, Nijinsky and The Minstrel. Kevin Manning rode all five of Jim Bolger’s winners while Ryan Moore has won it four times including three times in succession (2015-2017).
Betting on the Dewhurst Stakes
Ante-post betting opens some time before the Dewhurst Stakes and takes shape immediately after the National Stakes at the Curragh. The winner of that race is an automatic favourite if sent to Newmarket next time and justifiably so. Plenty of two-year-olds have come here with lofty reputations and many have lived up to the hype.
Major upsets are rare in this race and the market is often the best guide. Six of the last eleven Dewhurst winners have run in the 2000 Guineas with three of them winning; Frankel (2010), Dawn Approach (2012) and Churchill (2016).
The Dewhurst Stakes has been the launch pad of many stellar careers over the years. It regularly provides an insight into the Classic races for the following season and the form can be followed with confidence.