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Racing is often described as the sport of kings, and if that’s the case, Victoria will play host to the world’s royalty this spring when they come to play at the 2013 Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival. When it comes to Australian thoroughbred racing it doesn’t get any better, with the major Group 1 meetings of the year held from September through November.
While September 1st marks the official start of spring, in racing circles, the birds begin to sing and the roses bloom a little earlier. August 17th and the running of the newly re-branded PB Lawrence Stakes, now officially known as the PB Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield Racecourse signals the start of the 2013 Melbourne Spring Carnival. The highlight of the 50 days of racing excitement is the four-day Melbourne Cup Carnival in early November. As listed races go, the highly regarded $150,000 Ballarat Cup is a spring carnival odds on favourite with punters. The popular provincial meet on November 25th is the final race of the season.
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Facts about Melbourne Spring Carnival
- The first spring meeting was celebrated in 1854.
- The Derby Day program includes four Group 1 races.
- There are 15 Group 1s in total over the course of the 50-day program.
- Racing is good for retail, some 46,000 hats, 57,000 pairs of shoes and 30,000 handbags are purchased in the lead-up to the spring carnival.
- Each major race day throughout the Spring Carnival has a signature flower. The yellow rose is the floral emblem of the Melbourne Cup.
Victoria is the undisputed home of spring racing in Australia. That’s why Spring Carnival betting doesn’t get any hotter than during Melbourne Spring Carnival.Who will be the hero this year? Which horse will captivate the nation? There is no doubt that Melbourne Spring Carnival 2013 has something special in store for you.
About the Spring Carnival
The spring carnival brings together Australia’s great traditions – sport and socialising. The Melbourne Spring Carnival is a heady mix of racing, fashion and fun. The Victorian Racing Club (VRC) presents this program of racing meets across various metropolitan and provincial tracks, showcasing the very best horses in Australia and across the globe.
It’s that time of the year when every Aussie becomes an expert. Melbourne Spring Carnival odds become the topic of debate around water coolers in offices across this sporting-mad nation of ours.
There’s something about racing that affects us all and always has. Both men and women enjoy the Spring Carnival action – a rarity for many sports – and have done since its inception in 1854. The carnival’s history is rich and the horses and characters involved are household names: Archer, Phar Lap, Carbine, Tulloch, Might & Power, Northerly, Loosen Up, Makybe Diva, Black Caviar, TJ Smith, Bart Cummins, Colin Hayes, Roy Higgins, Damian Oliver, Glen Boss, the list goes on and on.
Key Dates and Races
There’s plenty of quality racing prior to November and Group 1 action kicks off in September with the Underwood Stakes. Caulfield Racecourse hosts the 1800m event with prize money totalling $353,000, catch the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes the same day.
A prelude to the Melbourne Cup Spring Carnival is the Turnbull Stakes in October 6. In the wake of ‘Makybe Diva’s – Turnbull Stakes – Cox Plate – Melbourne Cup’ trifecta in 2005, this 2000m at Flemington Racecourse was elevated to Group 1 status in 2006.
The three-day Caulfield Racing Carnival begins with the Caulfield Guineas for three-year-olds in October. The Group 1 over 1600m offers $1million in prize money. October is the running of the $500,000 Thousand Guineas open to three-year-old fillies only. The Caulfield Cup in October is the highlight of the Caulfield Carnival. One of the toughest handicap races over 2400m, this $2.5milion offering is one half of the coveted ‘cups double,’ the title given to a horse that wins both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cup.
Moonee Valle Racecourse has its moment in the sun in October with the running of the premier weight-for-age, 2400m Cox Plate. This year’s race marks 90 years of history and in terms of honour and prestige, the $3million Cox Plate is second only to the Melbourne Cup. The Manikato Stakes a day earlier is when the sprinters reign. The 1200m Group 1 offers a $500,000 prize purse.
Of the country race meets during the Spring Carnival none have more influence that the Geelong Cup. Regarded as a true indicator of Melbourne Cup form, this $300,000, Group 3 over 2400m, held on October 24th, is proving a lucrative warm up event for the Melbourne Cup. In recent years European stayers Media Puzzle (2002), Americain (2010) and Dunaden (2011) have gone on to win ‘the cup’ on the first Tuesday in November following success at Geelong.
The most notable race days of the Melbourne Spring Carnival are held from November 2 to 9. The world-renowned Melbourne Cup Carnival is a four-day festival held at Flemington Racecourse. Victoria Derby Day on Saturday 3rd November marks the start of the week-long event. This is one for the purists: an all-group schedule, nine races, four at the elite Group 1 level.
Tuesday 5th November is the day we’ve all been waiting for: ‘cup day.’ The world’s finest stayers prepare all year and Melbourne has a holiday, for the running of the 153rd Melbourne Cup.
Oaks Day on Thursday 5th November is all about the girls. Known as ‘Ladies Day’, trackside the style stakes are high with the winner of the national Fashions on the Field announced. On the track, the female theme continues, with racing open to fillies and mares only and race six, the $1,005.000 Group 1 Crown Oaks is the pick of the bunch.
Stakes Day on Saturday 9th November is billed as ‘Family Day’. There’s a relaxed, friendly vibe with plenty of quality racing as well. The headline acts being the two Group 1 fixtures: the Patinack Farm Classic and the Emirate Stakes.
Key Horses at Spring Carnival
The highly fancied Mark Kavanagh-trained filly Atlantic Jewel is likely to attract many a Melbourne Spring Carnival bet. The two-time Group 1 winner will be a local favourite for the Cox Plate.
The Mick Price-trained Samaready established herself as the best two-year-old filly in Australia with four wins from five starts, including the Blue Diamond Stakes. Possibly starts include: the One Thousand Guineas or the Coolmore Stakes on Derby Day.
The shining star of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival is the Melbourne Cup. Foreign horses have dominated in recent times and the stage is set for another overseas stayer to claim the coveted trophy. American-bred, French-trained hopeful Americain will be looking to make it two after claiming victory in 2010.
‘Cup King’ Bart Cummings will be looking to add a 13th Melbourne Cup trophy to the cabinet this spring. Keep an eye on German-bred US star Sanagas – winner of seven of 11 starts – this five-year-old gelding joined the Cummins’ stable in May in preparation for the Melbourne Cup.
If the legendary Black Caviar does race this spring chances are it will be at Flemington Racecourse on Stakes Day. Here, she will be odds-on favourite to take out her third (consecutive of course) Patinack Farm Classic.
Spring Carnival Venues
The carnival program is held across nine Victorian-based tracks. The major metropolitan Group race days are held at Flemington Racecourse, Caulfield Racecourse and Moonee Valley Racecourse. Catch quality runners competing in Group or Listed status races on provincial tracks such as Seymour, Geelong, Bendigo, Cranbourne, Sandown and Ballarat.
Flemington Racecourse dates back to 1840 and is most famous for hosting the Melbourne Cup. The racecourse comprises 1.27 square kilometres, has a track circumference of 2,312 metres and a final straight of 450 metres for race distances over 1,200 metres. Flemington Racecourse holds a crowd capacity of over 120,000 and has three grandstands.
Caulfield Racecourse is one of the best-known horse-racing tracks in the country. It is located in the eastern suburb of Caulfield, which is approximately 8 kilometres from Melbourne CBD. The track itself is shaped like a triangle, comprising of three straights and a total circumference of 2,080 metres, and a final straight of 367 metres.
Moonee Valley Racecourse
Moonee Valley Racecourse opened its doors back in 1883 and mainly hosts horse races for Thoroughbreds. It is located in the western suburb of Moonee Ponds, approximately 6 kilometres from Melbroune CBD. The track is a rectangular shape, with a circumference of 1,805 metres and a finishing straight of 173 metres which is the shortest straight in Australia horse racing.
Spring Carnival Greatest Performances
The Spring Carnival has some remarkable stories throughout the years. Below are just some stories that everyone will remember the Spring Carnival for!
Who could forget Port Lincoln fishing magnet Tony Santic’s fairy tale rise to racing royalty. The nation held its collective breath when his mighty mare Makybe Diva thundered past the post to claim her Melbourne Cup hat-trick in 2005.
A week after his brother’s death in a riding accident, a courageous Damien Oliver saluted the heavens as he rode Media Puzzle to victory in the 2002 Melbourne Cup. That stirring tribute has been immortalised in the motion picture The Cup.
Then there’s the heart ache. Craig Williams was poised to Ride Dunaden to victory in the 2011 Melbourne Cup before he was ruled ineligible. He won the Caulfield Cup on Southern Speed and the Cox Plate on Pinker Pinker earlier in the carnival. His victory aboard the French endurance machine would have assured him the honour of the first jockey in history to claim the Caulfield Cup-Cox Plate-Melbourne Cup treble in the one spring.