Exciting racing action arrives in Melbourne twice every year, with jockeys in colourful silks racing majestic Thoroughbreds to success. Racing carnivals occur in spring and autumn, with the annual Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival taking place in February and March. While it is less high profile than the spring event, it still features good quality Group One races, such as the Lightning Stakes. The horses run at three racecourses and compete in several Australian horse racing events.
Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival racecourses
Several clubs hold horse racing meetings at different venues, including the Melbourne Racing Club at Caulfield, Moonee Valley Racing Club at Moonee Valley, and Victoria Racing Club at Flemington. The horses run in an anti-clockwise direction at all of the racecourses.
The Caulfield racecourse first hosted a race in 1859. It has a triangular layout with a total track circumference of 2,080 metres that consists of three 30-metre wide straights and a finishing straight of 367 metres. All of the turns have 4 to 6 per cent banking. In total, the racecourse features over 8,000 square metres of indoor space spanning three levels and over 20,000 square metres of outdoor exhibition space, including grandstand seating, undercover canopies, and large grassed areas.
The Flemington racecourse first hosted events in 1840, which makes it the oldest continuing metropolitan racecourse in Australia. It has a pear-shaped layout with a track circumference of 2,312 metres, which includes a 1,200 straight called the Straight Six. The final straight is 450 metres. Flemington racecourse is on a 1.27 square kilometre site.
Moonee Valley racecourse
Established in 1883, the Moonee Valley racecourse has a rectangular layout with a track circumference of 1,805 metres. The finishing straight is the shortest in Australia, at 173 metres. The Moonee Valley development is approximately 40,000 square metres.
Group One races at the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival
Group One races are the highest level of Thoroughbred stakes events. They are sometimes run under handicap conditions, with better horses carrying a heavier weight to balance out any advantage they would otherwise have over slower horses. The aim of handicapping is to give the horses an opportunity to finish the race together in a dead heat. There are several key Group One races at the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival.
Blue Diamond Stakes
The Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes for two-year-old gallopers takes place over a distance of 1,200 metres in February at Caulfield racecourse. It is the major race for the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival and the richest race in Victoria. It is restricted to two-year-old colts, geldings, and fillies. The field for the race is limited to 16 horses.
The Lightning Stakes is the first leg of the Global Sprint Challenge that takes place at Flemington in February over a 1,000-metre straight turf course. There is no age or sex restriction for the horses; however, non-winners are not eligible for entry. The field limit is 20 horses.
The Australian Guineas is a major Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival race day in March for three-year-olds hosted at Flemington racecourse. The race is run over 1,600 metres under set weight conditions.
The Australian Cup is part of the Super Saturday of Racing that takes place at Flemington for the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival. It is a weight-for-age race held in March in which horses carry a set weight according to their age, sex, the month of the year, and race distance. The Australian Cup is run over a distance of 2,000 metres.
Flemington hosts the Newmarket Handicap, which is also an event in the Super Saturday of Racing. It is an open handicap race in March run over a distance of 1,200 metres.
William Reid Stakes
The final Group One race of the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival is the William Reid States. It is a weight-for-age race held in late March at Moonee Valley racecourse and run over a sprint distance of 1,200 metres.
How to buy horse racing products on eBay
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