What are the most prestigious Spring Carnival races?
Every year the world’s finest racehorses head to Melbourne to fight for fame and fortune at the legendary Spring Racing Carnival. This festival of top-class racing stretches on for more than two months and it encapsulates a huge number of important races, many of which boast prize pools north of $1 million. Yet there are a select few races that really stand out due to the immense levels of prestige attached to them. Here are the top five races to look out for at this year’s Spring Racing Carnival:
5. Caulfield Guineas
The $2 million Caulfield Guineas has long served as the breeding ground for some of the greatest champion sires in history. It is the most important race for three-year-olds at the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival and it always attracts an extremely strong field.
Lonhro, Tulloch, Redoute’s Choice, Manikato and Starspangledbanner are among the luminaries that shot to fame by winning this race. It takes place on the second Saturday of October, and it is the first truly massive race of the carnival. The Caulfield Guineas is run over 1600m, with set weights, and it typically results in a ferocious finish. It is the main event on a big day that also features the Caulfield Stakes, the Thousand Guineas and the Toorak Handicap.
4. Victoria Derby
Queen Victoria was on the throne and the outlaw Ned Kelly was a newborn when the Victoria Derby was first run in 1855. It has displayed remarkable endurance over the years and it remains one of the most important races in the entire Australian calendar. That is fitting, as it requires a great deal of endurance to prevail in this epic contest, which takes place over 2500m at Flemington at the beginning of November.
The prize pool has climbed steadily over the years, and it now stands at $2 million, while the race achieved Group 1 status in 1979 and never looked back. Late bloomers that are enjoying a strong upturn in form often perform well in this eagerly anticipated race, which is open to three-year-olds and held under set weights conditions.
3. Caulfield Cup
The $5 million Caulfield Cup is one of the world’s leading races for stayers and it always brings an elite field of global superstars to Victoria. These gladiators battle for glory over 2400m at Caulfield as thousands of racegoers roar them on. It is the most lucrative race in the world at this distance and the prestige attached to winning it is enormous, so you will always see star raiders jostling for position with the very finest thoroughbreds that Australia has to offer.
Last year, Best Solution won the Caulfield Cup for trainer Saeed bin Suroor at the Godolphin stable, and it has seen many magnificent winners throughout its storied history. Northerly, Mannerism and Elbstroem all prevailed here and went on to achieve greatness. More than 200 horses are nominated each year and the field is whittled down to just 18 of the very best in the business, ensuring a terrific battle ensues.
2. Cox Plate
Purists frequently name the W.S. Cox Plate as the greatest race in the entire Australian calendar. This weight-for-age contest is steeped in history and it has encapsulated all manner of heroism and heartbreak since it was first held in 1922. The roll-call of winners speaks volumes about its glorious history, featuring such legends as Kingston Town, Makybe Diva, Phar Lap, Northerly and Sunline.
However, the wondermare Winx has made it her own in recent years. She set a new course record when victorious in 2015, she finished eight lengths clear of Hartnell the following year and then she delivered a comeback for the ages as she reeled in Humidor to make it three in a row in 2017. Last year, Chris Waller’s superstar won a fourth consecutive Cox Plate to become the most successful runner in the history of this race.
Yet she has now retired and that will finally give everyone else a chance to triumph. It will also make things a lot more interesting from a betting perspective, and the odds on show at Punters reflect how much more open the $5 million Cox Plate looks in 2019. It takes place over 2040, at Moonee Valley and it dubbed “the race where legends are made”, so we should expect fireworks.
1. Melbourne Cup
The Group 1 Melbourne Cup is known as the race that stops a nation, and it is so important that it sparks a public holiday across Victoria. However, this race has global appeal, as it attracts more than 600 million viewers around the world each year. The prize money has risen to $8 million for 2019 and only the very best stayers will head to Flemington to battle for victory. Raiders have dominated in recent years, as Irish horses took the top three places in 2017 and British runners secured a 1-2-3 last year.
Local racing fans will be desperate for their nation’s trainers to battle back, but they face a fierce struggle, as the top stables in Britain, Ireland, the UAE, Japan and elsewhere have earmarked the Melbourne Cup as the biggest race of the year and they are hungry for success.