The Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes is held on the same day as the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) which is held for the stayers. Attracting a large field of talented sprinters, the Sir Rupert Clarke is worth $400,000 in prizemoney and allows for a maximum field of 18 runners.
It is a handicap feature that has a minimum weight of 52kg for runners with a low rating and a topweight of 58kg for the highest-rated gallopers in the race.
The Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes has been run under a number of different names, the Invitation Stakes was the inaugural name, but it was changed in 2006 to honour former Victoria Amateur Turf Club (now called the Melbourne Racing Club) chairman Sir Rupert Clarke who died in 2005.
Jovial Lad claimed the inaugural running of the event in 1951. It would remain as a Principal Race until 1978 before receiving Group 1 status from 1979.
There are a number of lead-up races with runners coming through the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m), Group 2 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) or Group 2 Let’s Elope Stakes (1400m).
Stratum Star is the most recent winner of the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes when claiming the event in 2015 to deliver trainer Darren Weir consecutive wins in the race – Trust In A Gust had won the race 12 months earlier.
It was the Memsie Stakes that Stratum Star used leading into the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes with the four-year-old entire having run third in the Memsie.
One interesting trend is that a high-number of four-year-olds have won the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes in recent decades with 17 of the past 32 winners saluting at the age of four. In fact, the past six winners have all been four-year-olds.
Notable winners of the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes include Jovial Lad (1951), Tauto (1970-71), Manikato (1978), Mannerism (1992), Poetic King (1994), Encosta De Lago (1996), Testa Rossa (1999 & 2000), Exceed And Excel (2003), Regal Roller (2004), Barely A Moment (2005), Rewaaya (2006), Orange County (2008) and Turffontein (2009).