They're Off in the Mackinnon
by Marc Fiddian

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They're Off in the Mackinnon - A History of the Mackinnon Stakes by Marc Fiddian
Product details
Paperback: 135 pages
Publisher: Raccoon Tail Books (2014)
ISBN: 978-0-9870625-2-5
Trim size: 210 x 148 mm
HELD on Derby Day, three days before the Melbourne Cup, the L.K.S.Mackinnon Stakes is a weight-for-age race dating back to 1869 when it was known as the Melbourne Stakes. It was renamed the Mackinnon Stakes in 1936 in honor of the late Lauchlan Kenneth Scobie Mackinnon, chairman of the Victoria Racing Club from 1916 until his death in 1935.

The 2000 metres event, which was 10 furlongs before the introduction of metrics in 1972, has long attracted a class field largely because of its timing and generous prizemoney. In some cases it’s a last-minute run for Melbourne Cup hopefuls, in others it’s a plum race for weight-for-age specialists. Generally it’s a most interesting race because of the entrants.  Three-year-olds tend not to start in the event because the Derby is run on the same day.

Admiral Henry Rous in the 1850s had invented the weight-for-age scale by which weights are allotted according to the age of a horse, its sex, the distance of the race and the time of the year. In the case of a 2000 metres race run between October 15 and 31, a three-year-old colt or gelding carries 49kg, a four-year-old 57kg and five-year-olds or older 59kg. A mare will carry 2.5kg less. The Mackinnon Stakes, which may be held on October 30-31 or the next four days, has slightly different weights for a November 1-4 outing, being 49.5kg, 57kg and 58.5kg, respectively, for males and 2.5kg less for females. The weight-for-age system means a class horse has every chance of showing its worth on the day whereas under the handicap system it races under a disadvantage against lesser horses. Of course, there is argument in favor of handicapping in that all runners have a chance of winning and this leads to greater interest in the race.

In the 145 years of the race there have been only 15 instances of the winner of the Melbourne/Mackinnon Stakes also winning the Melbourne Cup in the same year. There have been another 23 instances of a horse placed in the Melbourne/Mackinnon Stakes winning the Melbourne Cup in the same year.
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