Victorians love their horse racing. Whether it's the thrill of watching a winner storm past the post, the exciting atmosphere or the fashion, there's something at race meetings for everyone.
Sometimes referred as the sport of kings, thoroughbred horse racing is a pastime that is easily accessible to anyone, all around the state of Victoria. With race meetings on almost every day of the year, and ranging from world class events in Melbourne to annual picnic race meetings at some of the smaller country race clubs, there is certainly no shortage of events to be found.
Spring Racing Carnival
The most popular period of racing in Victoria each year is the Spring Racing Carnival. Spanning 50 days, from late September to mid November, the carnival includes around 80 meetings across the state. There are twenty country cups contested during this time.
The biggest events of the Spring Carnival are the Melbourne meetings. This is the time of year that international horses come to town to contest the biggest races Victoria has to offer - the Caulfield Cup, the Cox Plate, and the race that stops the nation, the Melbourne Cup.
The Spring Carnival isn't just about the horses. The fashion, food and on-course entertainment are almost as famous as the races themselves. In fact, some people even admit to attending the meetings and never seeing the horses run.
With prize money of over $2.5 million on offer, the Caulfield Cup is run over 2400 metres on the third Saturday of October at Caulfield racecourse. It has been run each year since 1879 and, as well as being a classic race in its own right, is also an important lead-up race to the Melbourne Cup.
The Cox Plate is held at the Moonee Valley race track. Run over a distance of 2040 metres, it is arguably the top weight-for-age race in Australia. Established in honour of the founder of Moonee Valley, William Samuel Cox, it was first run in 1922 with a purse of 1000 pounds on offer. Today, prize money totals over $3 million.
The Melbourne Cup is held at Flemington Racecourse on the first Tuesday in November each year, with a public holiday declared to celebrate the event. Run over a distance of 3200 metres, with total prize money amounting to over $6 million, it is the richest race in Australia. First run in 1861, the Melbourne Cup was born out of a desire by the Victoria Turf Club to introduce a race with a difference.
Racecourses can be found throughout Victoria, from small country towns to cities. Race meetings range from amateur "picnic" races to the glamour of internationally known events like the Melbourne Cup. A day at the races offers fun and excitement for those of all ages, often combined with entertainment and fashion events.