Australian Horse Racing

Horse Racing in Australia Horseracing is a very popular sport in Australia with over A$14.3 billion gambled in the 2009/10 horse race season, a big part of it at online racebooks. Although the do race over fences in Victoria and South Australia, flat racing is dominant and is behind only Australian rules football and rugby league in terms of spectator numbers. Australia has more racecourses than any other country and only the United States has more racehorses in training. The levels are prize money are equally impressive with only the U.S. and Japan offering richer rewards.

Australian horse meetings are held on a daily basis by Metropolitan, Provincial and Country Race Clubs. The official racing season begins each year on 1st August and ends on 30th July. Rather like in the UK horse races, the major events are usually staged on a Saturday with City meetings staged on Public Holidays throughout the year. Metropolitan and Country Race Clubs generally hold meetings through the week.

Just as racing in the UK revolves around the festival meetings, Australian Horse Racing is highlighted by its Carnivals. The biggest is the Melbourne spring racing carnival in Melbourne, Victoria, with the Melbourne Cup the most popular event in the Australian Horse Racing calendar. New South Wales hosts the Sydney autumn racing carnival featuring the Golden Slipper for two-year-olds. Other important races include the Caulfield Cup and the Cox Plate, both increasingly attracted challengers from Europe and the Far East.

Major Australian Racing Carnivals


Melbourne Spring Carnival

The Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival is the highlight of the Australian racing year. Australia’s finest thoroughbreds compete against an increasing number of International raiders over fifty days of top class racing at various racecourses.

The four-day Melbourne Cup Carnival is held at Flemington at the start of November with the feature event being the most famous horse race staged in the Southern Hemisphere. In terms of national importance, only the Grand National and possibly the Derby can rival it. The Cup is known as “the race that stops a nation” with over 100,000 people flocking to one of the biggest day’s on the social calendar in Australia.

The three-day Cup carnival at Caulfield a month earlier features the Caulfield Cup, the most significant trial race for the Melbourne Cup. It is a Group 1 handicap race over 2400m and forms the first leg of the big spring cups betting double. The Cox Plate is held at Moonee Valley in late October with Sandown Classic day at Sandown in November. This Group One event over 2040m is regarded as the weight-for-age championship of Australasia.

Melbourne Autumn Carnival

The Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival takes place in February and March each year. The autumn carnival in features several important Group 1 races including the first leg of the Global Sprint Challenge, the $750,000 Lightning Stakes at Flemington.

Other notable events include the Group 1 $1,000,000 Blue Diamond Stakes for two-year-olds at Caulfield and the $750,000 Australian Guineas for three-year-olds at Flemington. These races take place in March along with “Super Saturday”, a meeting including the $1,000,000 Australian Cup and $1,000,000 Newmarket Handicap. The last Group 1 race of the autumn is the $500,000 William Reid Stakes at the end of March at Moonee Valley racecourse.

New South Wales

Sydney Spring Racing Carnival

The Sydney Spring Racing Carnival is staged by the Australian Turf Club, which controls metropolitan racing in Sydney at Randwick, Rosehill, Warwick Farm & Canterbury. The Missile Stakes in early August is the first group race of the Sydney spring carnival with Rosehill hosting the $1,000,000 Group 1 Golden Rose over 1400 metres for three-year-olds in September. The three-day Randwick spring carnival begins with the Group 1 George Main Stakes over 1600 metres. The Group 2 Stan Fox Stakes at Rosehill is followed by Epsom Handicap day. Super Saturday at Randwick brings the carnival to a close in early October with four Group 1 races highlighted by the Group 1 Epsom Handicap over 1600 metres.

Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival

The Sydney Autumn Carnival is highlighted by the Golden Slipper Festival at Rosehill Gardens in early April with Randwick hosting the Doncaster Handicap carnival at the end of the month.

The Sydney autumn carnival offers more than $21Million in total prize money with the Chipping Norton Stakes at Warwick Farm in March being the first Group 1 event. The headline event is the $3.5 million Golden Slipper Stakes at Rosehill, the world’s richest race for two-year-olds. The same card now stages five Group One races including the $2.25M The BMW.

Randwick stages a three-day carnival over three consecutive Saturdays including the AJC Australian Derby, Doncaster Handicap and AJC Australian Oaks. The final day features four Group 1 races on the card with the feature being the Sydney Cup over 3200m.


Brisbane Winter Carnival

The Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival takes place in May and June at Doomben and Eagle Farm. The highlights are the Group One Doomben 10,000 at Doomben and the $1Million Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm. These events attract the best sprinters from the southern states of Australia. Eagle Farm also stages the Brisbane Cup. The Group One three-year-old classics, the Queensland Derby and Queensland Oaks, are also big attractions.

South Australia

Adelaide Autumn Carnival

The Adelaide Racing Carnival is held at Morphettville from March through to May and includes four Group 1 races. The first big race of the meeting is the Group 2 Adelaide Cup on the Monday of the Labour Day weekend in March. The main event is the Goodwood Sprint on the final day of the carnival. Other Group One events include the Australasian Oaks for 3yo fillies and the Robert Sangster Stakes for fillies & mares. The best three-year-old stayers compete in Adelaide for the South Australian Derby.

Western Australia

Perth Summer Carnival

Perth Summer Carnival The Perth Racing Carnival takes place at Ascot racecourse during the summer and the Belmont Park track over winter. Super Saturday in November features the Group 1 Railway Stakes over 1600m and the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes over 1200m. The Group 1 Kingston Town Classic is staged over 1800m in December.

The Group 2 Perth Cup is usually held on New Year’s Day but was switched to New Year’s Eve for 2011/2012. Ascot also stages an autumn racing highlighted by the Group 2 WATC Derby and Group 2 Karrakatta Plate. Belmont stages its main horse races in June and July with four Group 3 races including the Belmont Sprint and the Strickland Stakes.


Tasmanian Summer Racing Carnival

The Tasmanian Summer Racing Carnival is held at Hobart and Launceston racecourses but does not include any Group 1 or Group 2 events. The Group Bow Mistress Stakes over 1200 metres for fillies & mares takes place on Tasmanian Derby Day in early February at Hobart racecourse. The $100,000 Listed Tasmanian Derby for three-year-olds over 2200 metres was downgraded from Group 3 to Listed status last season.

The biggest race of the year in Tasmania is the $225,000 Group 3 Hobart Cup over 2200 metres and takes place in mid February. Launceston’s major race is the $225,000 Launceston Cup over 2400 metres.

ACT Racing Carnivals

Canberra Racing Club has two major race days during the racing season with the Black Opal Stakes for two-year-olds and the National Sprint Handicap (1400m). The Canberra Cup (2000m) is a Listed race that takes place at the end of November.

Northern Territory Racing Carnivals

Darwin in the Northern Territory stages the Darwin Cup meeting on the first Monday in August. The day attracts crowds in excess of 20,000 to Fannie Bay racecourse in far north Australia.

Author Profile: