Champions Sprint 2023

Ladbrokes Tip: The Manikato Stakes has produced many recent VRC Sprint Classic winners

\The Group 1 $3 million VRC Sprint Classic – currently run as the Champions Sprint – is a 1200m sprint feature held on VRC Champions Stakes Day (formerly Mackinnon Stakes Day) on the Saturday after Melbourne Cup Day in early November each Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.

2022 Champions Sprint winner Roch 'N' Horse

2022 Champions Sprint winner Roch ‘N’ Horse (pictured winning the Newmarket Handicap). Photo: Ultimate Racing Photos.

The marquee race for short distance stars during the carnival, the weight-for-age feature is one of the headline events on the final day of the four-day Cup Carnival and has held elite level status since 1979. It is has recently been run as the Darley Classic due to sponsorship.

In 2021 the event was renamed the Champions Sprint.

The inaugural winner in 1960 was Karina and since then top-line sprinters to win the race include: Hareeba (1994), Takeover Target (2004), Miss Andretti (2007), and the mighty mare Black Caviar (2010 & 2011).

The Champions Sprint takes place down the famous Flemington Racecourse ‘Straight Six’ and is the key support act at the meeting that is highlighted by the Group 1 VRC Champions Stakes (2000m) – formerly the Mackinnon Stakes.

In 2023 the VRC Champions Stakes Day card also features the Group 1 $3 million Champions Mile (1600m) – formerly the Kennedy Cantala – moved from the Derby Day meeting the Saturday prior in 2022.

The other standout race on the card is the Group 3 VRC Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) offering a bonus to the winner if they had been balloted out of that year’s Melbourne Cup field.

The Champions Sprint now serves as a key follow-up for sprinters out of the world’s richest turf race, the $20 million The Everest (1200m) run at Royal Randwick in October.

In 2017 the inaugural The Everest winner Redzel continued on to take out the Darley Classic. The following three VRC Sprint Classic winners also came off a run in The Everest with Santa Ana Lane (6th in 2018), Nature Strip (4th in 2019) and Bivouac (2nd in 2020).

In 2021 Nature Strip became the latest horse to complete The Everest –  Darley Sprint Classic double when winning the latter for a second time.

Nature Strip further franked the form heading to Royal Ascot in June of 2022 to win the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes (1200m) in the UK.

He returned in 2022 but only managed to run second in the Champions Sprint results behind the winning mare Roch ‘N’ Horse.

The 2023 Champions Sprint ran on 2023 as part of the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival and was won in style by the favourite Imperatriz ($2.15F) who posted her fifth win on the trot and third straight Group 1 triumph. 

2023 VRC Champions Sprint Results

The official VRC Sprint Classic 2023 Results & Finishing Order – now known as the Champions Sprint Results – for the Flemington sprint classic will be available below once the race takes place on Saturday November 11, 2023.

2023 Champions Sprint winner Imperatriz

2023 Champions Sprint winner Imperatriz took her winning streak up to five straight with another impressive win for the punters. Photo: Steve Hart.

  • 1st: #8 Imperatriz
  • 2nd: #2 Buenos Noches
  • 3rd: #7 In Secret

Imperatriz ($2.15F) has kept the wins coming making it five straight victories when handling her first Flemington assignment to dig deep late and hold out the Matthew Smith-trained Buenos Noches and the James Cummings-trained In Secret to win the 2023 Champions Sprint by a half-length on Stakes Day in style.

2023 Champions Sprint Odds

The season’s updated Champions Sprint 2023 betting odds and links to our markets on the Flemington Group 1 sprint will be available here once available so stay tuned for the best prices on your Champions Sprint tips this spring.

Early market betting odds on the 2024 Champions Sprint will be displayed below once available. Odds are subject to fluctuation. For current odds on all of our live markets, please visit

Champions Sprint Race Info

  • Former Race Names: VRC Sprint Classic, Darley Classic
  • Date: Saturday November 11, 2023
  • Track: Flemington Racecourse
  • Distance: 1200m
  • Conditions: Weight-for-age
  • Status: Group 1
  • Prize Money: $3 million
  • First Run: 1960

Champions Sprint Betting

Redzel wins Darley Classic

Redzel confirmed himself as Australia’s best sprinter that year after taking out the 2017 Darley Classic. Photo by

Champions Sprint betting markets first open with the early nominations a couple of months out from race day and offer juicy ante-post prices on the possible runners in the sprint classic.

Futures Champions Sprint odds are always generous but some punters prefer to wait until the field is out before getting behind their favourites.

Horses that ran well in their lead-up Group start usually dominate the odds as plenty of recent VRC Sprint Classic winners came off a lead-up win including Buffering (2013) and Redzel (2017) who did The Everest – Darley Classic double. Nature Strip became history’s second The Everest – Darley Sprint Classic champion in 2021.

Sprinters that ran well in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley a fortnight earlier usually sit high up the Champions Sprint odds online as the race produced three of the five winners from 2012-16 including Buffering (2013) who did the double.

Imperatriz (2023) is the last horse to complete the Manikato Stakes – Champions Sprint double.

Redzel ($4 in 2017), Bivouac ($3.20 in 2020), the very short-priced Nature Strip ($1.28 in 2021), and Imperatriz ($2.15 in 2023) are the latest favourites in Champions Sprint betting to salute for the punters.

There was a notable upset in 2022 with the Flemington specialist Roch ‘N’ Horse saluting at Champions Sprint odds of $20.

Champions Sprint Tips

Champions Sprint tips are led by in-form spring sprinters with previous form down the famous Flemington straight. Previous Group 1 winners and those coming off a good run in the Manikato Stakes in the lead-up also make good Champions Sprint betting tips.

Other smart tips on the Champions Sprint are to look for horses that won their lead-up race, come off a run in The Everest in Sydney, and have drawn an inside alley as just two horses since 2006 have won from a double digit barrier with Mental (10 in 2012) and Malaguerra (11 in 2016).

The Everest has proved the best lead-up race into the VRC Sprint Classic / Champions Sprint in recent years producing all five winners from 2017-21 most recently in 2021 with Nature Strip completing the double for Chris Waller.

2023 Champions Sprint Tips

Our Ladbrokes’ insider Champions Sprint 2023 betting tips and Flemington racing selections will be detailed below the week of the race so stay tuned for the short-distance specialists to back and sack this spring.

  • To Win: #8 Imperatriz ($1.90 at time of publish) – BET NOW

There’s a few last start winners and plenty of in-form sprinters in the race, but just impossible to bet against a mare like Imperatriz who is going so well and just keeps winning. The test will be the Flemington straight, will she like it? This now Cranbourne-based Kiwi expat is ultra-consistent having won seven of her past eight starts. She is on a four straight winning streak with all of those being at The Valley. At that tight circuit she’s a freak and has won a trio of Group 1 wins there including the Manikato by over three lengths last time out on Cox Plate Day. The margin there and fact she’s won up to a mile suggests she’ll run strongly down the ‘Straight Six’ and could potentially make a mess of her rivals again adding to her elite level tally and her brilliant 1200m strike rate (8:6-1-1).

Champions Sprint Field

The VRC Sprint Classic field – now known as the Champions Sprint race field – has attracted big numbers plenty of recent editions of the Group spring showdown, but Black Caviar scared off her rivals in 2010 and 2011 defeating just six other contenders for her back-to-back victories.

The Champions Sprint field is made of the season’s best sprinters and traditionally features Manikato Stakes graduates, with the last to complete the Manikato – Darley Classic double being Buffering (2013).

Final Champions Sprint acceptances close the Wednesday before the race while the early nominations close in September and usually feature over 50 entries.

2023 Champions Sprint Field

The official Champions Sprint 2023 Final Field & Barriers are set for release on Wednesday November 8, 2023 at 9:30am (local time) and will be published below once out so bookmark this page to view the top sprinters set to do battle in the Flemington feature.

The 2023 Champions Sprint final field features a quality line-up of spring sprinters led by the airborne Imperatriz who is odds-on to make it five wins on the trot and her third at elite level this prep after taking out the Moir Stakes – Manikato Stakes double at The Valley.

2023 Champions Sprint Nominations

The Champions Sprint Nominations for 2023 close the week of the race and the full list of early Champions Sprint entries will be available below once released by Racing Victoria.

The 2023 Champions Sprint nominations attracted 14 short-distance specialists dominated in the all-in markets by Imperatriz chasing a fifth win on the trot and who was last seen dominating the Group 1 Manikato Stakes at The Valley by over three lengths.

Last 10 Horse Sex Age Trainer Hcp Rating
1 x15x11x312 AIRMAN G 4 Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes 103
2 11x344x121 ASFOORA M 5 Henry Dwyer 111
3 30236×3331 BELLA NIPOTINA M 6 Ciaron Maher & David Eustace 114
4 123x57x138 BUENOS NOCHES H 4 Matthew Smith 109
5 120×110 CELUI C 3 Brent Stanley 74
6 1262×4395 C’EST MAGIQUE M 4 Grahame Begg 95
7 x6117x2171 ESPIONA M 5 Chris Waller 112
8 x10x8826x1 FRONT PAGE G 7 Matthew Dale 104
9 x11121x111 IMPERATRIZ M 5 Mark Walker 118
10 1x1317x244 IN SECRET M 4 James Cummings 115
11 47x12284x6 LOFTY STRIKE H 4 Julius Sandhu 108
12 110412×711 SHE DANCES M 4 Peter G Moody & Katherine Coleman 101
13 3211×993 SHINZO C 3 Chris Waller 104
14 2x3x160x11 STAR PATROL G 5 Clinton McDonald 106

Table Credit: Racing Australia.

Champions Sprint Form Guide

The VRC Sprint Classic form guide – now referred to as the Champions Sprint form guide – has all the basic information you need to know before placing your bets on the classic like the starting positions of all the runners, their jockeys and trainers.

A good form guide on the Champions Sprint also shows the lead-up form of the hopefuls, their win / place percentages and track / distance records so you can sort through who to back and who to sack on race day.

When doing the form on the Champions Sprint race it is key to look for graduates out of the Manikato Stakes, proven Flemington performers and sprinters with previous Group 1 wins on their record.

Champions Sprint Form Facts

  • Favourites in betting had a poor record until Redzel (2017), Bivouac (2020), Nature Strip (2021), and Imperatriz (2023) all saluted for the punters in recent years.
  • The Manikato Stakes is the key form race to follow into the Flemington Group 1 with Buffering (2013) and Imperatriz (2023) the latest to do the double.
  • The Everest winner Redzel (2017) became the first horse to win the event off a non-Melbourne lead-up since Takeover Target (2004).
  • Santa Ana Lane (2018), Nature Strip (2019 and 2021) and Bivouac (2020) also franked Sydney’s The Everest form winning off a lead-up in the world’s richest turf race; Nature Strip also completed The Everest – Darley Classic double in 2021.
  • Swick (2008) and Nature Strip (2021) are the only seven-year-old VRC Sprint Classic winners from the past 30 years.

2023 Champions Sprint Form Guide

A link to the comprehensive Champions Sprint 2023 Form Guide on all Champions Sprint Horses will be available below the week of the race.

VRC Sprint Classic / Champions Sprint Results

The Champions Sprint race results show the exact finishing order of all the starters plus any horses scratched from the original field.

Along with the VRC Sprint Classic / Champions Sprint winner, winning time and margin you can also see the starting price of all the horses once the results are out when the event runs as part of the new look VRC Champions Stakes Day card.

There have been plenty of upset VRC Sprint Classic results in recent years including Roch ‘N’ Horse ($20 in 2022), Delectation ($13 in 2015), and Buffering ($11 in 2013).

Notable recent VRC Sprint Classic winners include the super speedy dual champion Nature Strip (2019, 2021); Santa Ana Lane (2018); subsequent two-time The Everest winner Redzel (2017); Terravista (2014) who also ran second in the 2017 edition three years later; Black Caviar (2010-11); Miss Andretti (2007); and Dance Hero (2006).

Imperatriz (2023) was the last Champions Sprint winning mare.

The filly Pharein (1999) was the last three-year-old Champions Sprint winner.

Rubitano holds the current Champions Sprint race record winning in 2002 in a time of 1 minute 07:17 seconds.

Past VRC Sprint Classic / Champions Sprint Winners

Recent Champions Sprint winners and place-getters dating back to the year 2000 are detailed in the below table.

Year Winner 2nd 3rd Time
2023 Imperatriz Buenos Noches In Secret 1:09.08
2022 Roch ‘N’ Horse Nature Strip Baller 1:09.1
2021 Nature Strip Swats That Bella Nipotina 1:08.7
2020 Bivouac Nature Strip Libertini 1:08.6
2019 Nature Strip Loving Gaby In Her Time 1:09.2
2018 Santa Ana Lane In Her Time DH: Pierata, Jungle Cat 1:08.6
2017 Redzel Terravista Impending 1:08.7
2016 Malaguerra Spieth Fell Swoop 1:10.2
2015 Delectation Chautauqua Terravista 1:10.0
2014 Terravista Chautauqua Lankan Rupee 1:08.7
2013 Buffering Shamexpress Moment Of Change 1:10.3
2012 Mental Sea Siren Hallowell Belle 1:09.0
2011 Black Caviar Buffering Mid Summer Music 1:08.3
2010 Black Caviar Star Witness Ortensia 1:07.9
2009 All Silent Wanted Bank Robber 1:08.7
2008 Swick Turffontein Sunburnt Land 1:11.0
2007 Miss Andretti Gold Edition Stanzout 1:08.9
2006 Dance Hero Shadoways Miss Andretti 1:08.6
2005 Glamour Puss Barely A Moment Cape Of Good Hope 1:08.9
2004 Takeover Target Recurring St Basil 1:08.2
2003 Ancient Song Into The Night Blessum 1:11.0
2002 Rubitano Intelligent Star Cosmic Strike 1:07.1
2001 Sudurka Hire Camena 1:08.4
2000 Easy Rocking Umrum Tilt The Scales 1:10.0