Off to the Races

Fil­lies, fash­ion and fri­vol­ity all come to the fore in Vic­to­ria dur­ing Oc­to­ber as the Spring Rac­ing Car­ni­val takes centre stage. By Jenny Burns.

Where Melbourne - - Contents - For more in­for­ma­tion on and tick­ets for this year’s car­ni­val visit springrac­ing­car­ni­

VICTORIANS’ LOVE OF a great party is leg­endary and the Spring Rac­ing Car­ni­val is one of our big­gest cel­e­bra­tions with the best horses, fash­ion afi­ciona­dos, celebri­ties and those who just love a good party in at­ten­dance.

This year’s car­ni­val, which started on 1 Septem­ber and fin­ishes on 25 Novem­ber, fea­tures 136 race meet­ings. The car­ni­val con­tin­ues to com­mand strong interest on the world stage with a number of in­ter­na­tional horses again ex­pected to com­pete for the $77 mil­lion in prize money on offer.

Many of these horses will be in action at the BMW Caulfield Cup Car­ni­val which starts on Satur­day 14 Oc­to­ber with Lad­brokes Caulfield Guineas Day. This is al­ways a pop­u­lar meet­ing with purists, thanks to the number of high qual­ity races on the pro­gram in­clud­ing Vic­to­ria’s pre­mier mile classic race for three-year-olds.

On 18 Oc­to­ber it’s Catanach’s Jewellers Blue Sap­phire Stakes Day which sees the country’s best young sprint­ers go hoof-to-hoof vy­ing for the cov­eted crown of Blue Sap­phire cham­pion.

The flag­ship event, the $3.15 mil­lion BMW Caulfield Cup, the world’s rich­est turf hand­i­cap over 2,400 me­tres, is run on 21 Oc­to­ber.

At­ten­tion then turns to Moonee Val­ley for the Cox Plate Car­ni­val. The car­ni­val in­cor­po­rates two race meet­ings, start­ing on Fri­day 27 Oc­to­ber with Lad­brokes Manikato Stakes Night. The Manikato Stakes sees the na­tion’s best sprint­ers clash for a share of $1 mil­lion in Australia’s rich­est thor­ough­bred race un­der lights.

On Satur­day 28 Oc­to­ber it’s Lad­brokes Cox Plate Day, which fea­tures Australia’s pre­mier weight for age cham­pi­onship race, the $3 mil­lion Lad­brokes Cox Plate.

This race is re­garded as the best weight for age race in Aus­trala­sia.

Rac­ing he­roes from yes­ter­year, in­clud­ing Phar Lap and Tul­loch, to­gether with mod­ern cham­pi­ons such as Might and Power, Sun­line, Northerly and the great cham­pion mare Makybe Diva, have etched their names on the W.S. Cox Plate hon­our roll. All eyes this year will be on Winx, the won­der mare aim­ing to be­come only the sec­ond horse in his­tory to win the Cox Plate three years in a row. She’s won her lat­est 20 races so hopes are high for an­other vic­tory thus ce­ment­ing her rac­ing im­mor­tal­ity.

After the Cox Plate the spot­light turns to Flem­ing­ton race­course and the Mel­bourne Cup Car­ni­val.

The car­ni­val gets un­der­way on 4 Novem­ber with AAMI Vic­to­ria Derby Day.

Derby Day is considered by most rac­ing purists to be the best sin­gle day of thor­ough­bred rac­ing in Australia.

On 7 Novem­ber the pin­na­cle of the Spring Rac­ing Car­ni­val, the Emi­rates Mel­bourne Cup, takes centre stage. The third day of the Mel­bourne Cup Car­ni­val is Kennedy Oaks Day on 9 Novem­ber, tra­di­tion­ally known as Ladies Day. The rac­ing high­light is the Kennedy Oaks, a classic for three-year-old fil­lies.

The Mel­bourne Cup Car­ni­val con­cludes on 11 Novem­ber with Emi­rates Stakes Day. High­lights in­clude the 1600-me­tre event, the Emi­rates Stakes.

While for some the rac­ing is the high­light of the car­ni­val for oth­ers it’s the fash­ion. Last year, race­go­ers spent al­most $60 mil­lion on dresses, hats, suits and groom­ing to en­sure they looked their best at the race­track. Given such out­lays it’s not surprising to discover Fash­ion on the Fields com­pe­ti­tions can be just as com­pet­i­tive as the action on the track! Fur­ther boost­ing the interest is the prize money on offer for the best out­fits. Dur­ing the Caulfield Cup Car­ni­val thousands of dol­lars are on offer. En­trants in Myer Fash­ion on the Field com­pe­ti­tion, run dur­ing the Mel­bourne Cup Car­ni­val, are com­pet­ing for around $250,000 worth of prizes.

Even the country race clubs get in on the act with the 26 country cup meet­ings of­fer­ing thousands of dol­lars in prizes to the fash­ion savvy.

Country race meet­ings are an important com­po­nent of the Spring Rac­ing Car­ni­val. This year 40 clubs will hold race days dur­ing the car­ni­val.

They range from once-a-year clubs to re­gional Vic­to­ria’s largest, with re­wards to match. The largest of the races, TAB Cran­bourne Cup (15 Oc­to­ber) bet365 Gee­long Cup (25 Oc­to­ber), Jayco Bendigo Cup (1 Novem­ber) and Sports­ Bal­larat Cup (25 Novem­ber) all offer prize money of $300,000.

As well as of­fer­ing some fan­tas­tic rac­ing, these meet­ings are also great fun. Like the ma­jor Mel­bourne race days there’s plenty of live en­ter­tain­ment.

There’s also the chance to catch up with friends while en­joy­ing some great food and wine which can be as important to some as the rac­ing and fash­ion.

As a visit to The Cham­pi­ons: Thor­ough­bred Rac­ing Gallery (, re­veals, such cel­e­bra­tions aren’t new. Lo­cated within the Na­tional Sports Mu­seum at the Mel­bourne Cricket Ground, the gallery fea­tures some of the old­est rac­ing footage from around the country. Need­less to say there are many happy faces in the crowd! The gallery ex­am­ines the ori­gins and lo­gis­tics of rac­ing and the colour and spec­ta­cle of race day fash­ions. There are plenty of trea­sures on show in­clud­ing a bri­dle and horse­shoe worn by Phar Lap at Agua Caliente and all of cham­pion trainer Bart Cum­mings’ dozen Mel­bourne Cup tro­phies.

An­other high­light is an ar­tic­u­lated skele­ton of Car­bine, the cham­pion race­horse of the 1880s and 1890s.

There are plenty of cham­pi­ons at Liv­ing Leg­ends (liv­in­gle­ and as an added bonus they are alive and kick­ing!

Lo­cated within Wood­lands His­toric Park at Green­vale (six min­utes from Mel­bourne Air­port), Liv­ing Leg­ends is home to 19 of Australia’s finest re­tired cham­pion race­horses in­clud­ing win­ners of the Mel­bourne Cup, Ja­pan Cup, Caulfield Cup, Aus­tralian Cup and Cox Plate. You can ob­serve the horses in their pad­dock or join a guided tour. Tours in­clude in­for­ma­tion about the horses and their rac­ing his­tory. There’s also a chance to feed sev­eral of the cham­pi­ons and learn more about their personalities and why they are cham­pi­ons. It seems many have the same at­tributes— men­tal tough­ness and the abil­ity to re­lax. The same could be said of party-lov­ing race pa­trons dur­ing the Spring Rac­ing Car­ni­val!

Dunkeld Rac­ing Club is one of a number of country clubs to hold meet­ings dur­ing the Spring Rac­ing Car­ni­val. Photo: Rac­ing Pho­tos.

Caulfield Cup. Photo: Rac­ing Pho­tos. Winx. Photo: Rac­ing Pho­tos. Caulfield Cup. Photo: Rac­ing Pho­tos.

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