The History of the Railway
For a little over a minute on New Year's Day, Ellerslie Racecourse will hold its breath while the best sprinters in the country compete for group 1 glory in the Sistema Railway.
The Railway is a 1200m sprint race with a purse of $200,000. Historically, the race was a handicap race, however in 2009 the conditions of the race changed to set weights and penalties.
The legendary Mr Tiz won the race on three consecutive occasions (1989-1991), finishing in a dead heat with Westminster in 1989. Of the great horse, regular jockey Lance O’Sullivan recalls, “You couldn’t steer him during a race - he would pick his path and that was that. I was merely a passenger.”
Diamond Lover won the race in 1987, breaking the Ellerslie track record for 1200m, running 1:07:79. Diamond Lover went on to be a champion broodmare, producing multiple group one winning horses including the Group 1 AJC Derby Winner Don Eduardo and Tristalove, who won the AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes and AJC Australasian Oaks.
In the past decade, the race has had multiple upset wins including 2009 winner Jacowils, a 104-1 shot and Miss Raggedy Ann in 2011, who won at odds of 86-1.
The Sistema Railway is set to run on New Year’s Day at Ellerslie and is sure to be another cracking edition of the great race. Welcome in the New Year the right way - at the races!