Australian horse racing takes place on a weekly basis with meetings conducted daily by Metropolitan, Provincial and Country Race Clubs. The racing season begins each year on August 1st and the end of the racing season concludes on July 30th.
Saturday is considered the main day for racing in Australia with meetings held in both the city and country areas of each State almost every weekend. City meetings are regularly held on Public Holidays throughout the year and Metropolitan Race Clubs can hold meetings on any given day of the week.
Midweek racing generally sees multiple Metropolitan meetings on a Wednesday in each State, while country clubs race regularly on any given day.
Racing Carnivals are run in each state of Australia throughout the year, with the biggest being the Melbourne spring racing carnival in Melbourne, Victoria. Melbourne is home to Australia's most famous race, the Melbourne Cup at Flemington, along with the Caulfield Cup at Caulfield and Cox Plate at Moonee Valley.
The major racing States of Australia and relevant carnivals are outlined below:
Metropolitan racing is held in the city of Melbourne and is home to the spectacular Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival which runs from September through to November each year and is the highlight of the racing season in Australia.
Weight-for-age racing kicks off early in August in Melbourne with Group 2 & 3 racing the order of the day until the Memsie Stakes (1400m) commences Group 1 racing in August.
A number of high quality group races are then held each each week in Melbourne until the first of the major carnivals commences at Caulfield in October, when the MRC hosts its major three day carnival, highlighted by the Caulfield Cup (2400m) on the final day.
The W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) is held one week after the Caulfield Cup and is widely considered to be the 'Weight-For-Age Championship” of Australasia. The Cox Plate has a long history of attracting the best horses from Australia, New Zealand, and around the world, who meet at level weights to etch their name in history for the time honoured race.
Seven days later the city of Melbourne is abuzz when the Victoria Racing Club hosts the four-day Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington racecourse. The first Saturday of the carnival is Victoria Derby day which hosts one of the best day's racing anywhere in the world. Quality group racing action includes four Group 1 races, headlined by the AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) for three-year-olds.
The following Tuesday, which is always the first Tuesday in November, the $6 million race for the people, the Melbourne Cup (3200m), is held in front of a massive crowd of over 100,000 plus people at majestic Flemington. The great mare Makybe Diva was the first horse to win the great race three times when she won the event in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
Two days later on the Thursday is Oaks Day, which is known as Ladies' Day, where the fillies only, VRC Oaks (2500m), is the feature race of the day.
The Flemington carnival concludes two days later with the running of the Emirates Stakes (1600m) on the final Saturday.
Sandown holds its major race day of the year one week after the Flemington carnival ends in November. Hosted by the Melbourne Racing Club, they have multiple group races on offer including the Sandown Classic (2400m), Sandown Guineas (1600m), Sandown Stakes (1500m) and Eclipse Stakes (1800m).
Victoria also has a racing carnival in February and March each year in Melbourne which is known as the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival. It's not as high profile as the spring equivalent, but it does include a number of quality Group 1 races during the autumn.
The first Group 1 race of the autumn is the CF Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield in early February. Two weeks later at the same track the Melbourne Racing Club's feature race of the autumn is held, the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) for two-year-olds.
The VRC hosts the major meeting of the autumn carnival at Flemington with Super Saturday Of Racing featuring two Group 1 races, the Australian Cup (2000m) and Newmarket Handicap (1200m). Super Saturday features all group and stakes races and is regarded as one of the best race days on the Australian calendar each year.
Australia's best three-year-olds contest the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Fleminton, one week before Super Saturday, while Moonee Valley hosts its major race day in March with the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) for sprinters.
Metropolitan racing is held in the city of Sydney where racing carnivals are held in both the spring and autumn. The Australian Jockey Club (AJC) and the Sydney Turf Club (STC) officially merged in February 2011 to form the Australian Turf Club (ATC), which now administers all city racing in Sydney.
The NSW Government secured a $174million funding package to renovate and revitalise Sydney’s most iconic tracks, Rosehill Gardens and Royal Randwick, as part of their major racing reform. The physical benefits of this will see a $150Million redevelopment of Randwick racecourse as well as $24Million in improvements to Rosehill Gardens.
Randwick hosted the first city meeting under the Australian Turf Club banner on Wednesday 9th February, 2011.
The Sydney Spring Racing Carnival begins at the onset of the new racing season in August. A number quality group races are held at Randwick, Rosehill and Warwick Farm each week, before the carnival culminates at Randwick in October.
The richest race of the Sydney spring is the Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) at Rosehill in late August, which offers up to $1,000,000 in prizemoney for three-year-old gallopers.
The Sydney spring carnival typically finishes one week before the three-day Caulfield Cup carnival commences in Melbourne.
The Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival is the major racing carnival held in New South Wales each year and takes place in April and May.
Rosehill hosts the world’s richest race for two-year-olds in March, the Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill racecourse, alongside feature races The BMW (2400m) and Vinery Club Stakes. Golden Slipper Day is one of the great race days on the Australia racing calendar.
Following the Rosehill carnival, Randwick racecourse is the centre of attention where the newly formed $18 Million two-day racing extravaganza 'The Championships' takes place, highlighted by the running of the $4 Million ATC Queen Elizabeth Stakes on the second day.
Headlining the first day of 'The Championships' is the Doncaster Handicap (1600m), while other feature races over the two days include the ATC Australian Derby (2400m), ATC Australian Oaks (2400m) and the Sydney Cup (3200m).
Metropolitan racing is held in the city of Brisbane and the major carnival is held during May and June. A merger between the Brisbane Racing Club (BTC) and Queensland Racing Club (QTC) in July 2009 seen the formation of the Brisbane Racing Club which now oversees racing at both Doomben and Eagle Farm race tracks.
The Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival takes place in the months of May and June each year and features some quality races for all ages.
The major Group 1 feature races in Brisbane are the Doomben 10,000 (1350m) run at Doomben racecourse and the $1 million Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) which takes place at Eagle Farm in June, along with the Group 2 Brisbane Cup (2400m).
Queensland also hosts another big event with the Magic Millions annual Yearling Sale in January and the Gold Coast Turf Club hosts a multi million dollar race day for horses purchased through the Magic Millions sales.
The Magic Millions 2yo Classic race was first run in 1987 and has become one of the most prestigious races in Australia for two-year-olds. The Magic Millions 3yo Trophy is another high profile race on the card at the Gold Coast Magic Millions carnival.
Metropolitan racing in South Australia takes place in the city of Adelaide and the Adelaide Racing Carnival runs through March and May each year at Morphettville racecourse. Home to all Group 1 events held in Adelaide, the Morphettville track also has a 'Parks' course located within the same circuit.
Morphettville hosts the Group 2 Adelaide Cup (3200m) in early March on the Monday of the Labour day weekend, and two Group 1 feature races less than two weeks later on the Saturday which are the Australasian Oaks (2000m) for 3yo Fillies and the Robert Sangster Stakes (1200m) for fillies and mares.
South Australia also hosts the Oakbank carnival in the Adelaide Hills over the Easter weekend which is predominantly jumps racing mixed with some flat events, and it has gained a life of its own as a place to be over Easter.
Note: Cheltenham & Victoria Park are no longer used to hold race meetings in Adelaide. The Cheltenham track had its last race meeting on Saturday February 21st, 2009, and Victoria Park was vacated in early 2008. Both tracks in future will be utilised by the Adelaide city council for city developments.
The second turf track at Allan Scott Park Morphettville was completed and ready for racing in June 2009, with the first meeting held on Wednesday June 17th, 2009. Known as ‘The Parks’, it allows the SAJC to conduct up to 70 race meetings a year.
The Parks course typically hosts a couple of group races each year during the autumn.
Metropolitan racing is held in the city of Perth and they have two city tracks, Ascot (races in summer) and Belmont Park (races in winter), and the major Perth Racing Carnival is held at Ascot racecourse over November and December.
The major carnival in Perth begins in late November featuring three Saturdays of quality racing action. The first day features the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) which is an open handicap worth $1 million in prizemoney.
The second day hosts the Group 2 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at weight-for-age, while the final day sees the running of the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m), also at weight-for-age. The Group 2 Perth Cup (3200m) is run on New Year’s Day at Ascot racecourse.
Perth has a number of group races that take place from February to May at Ascot and culminates in the running of the Group 1 WATC Derby (2400m) in March.
Belmont racecourse hosts four Group 3 races during June and July each year and features the Group 3 Strickland Stakes (2000m).
Tasmania is gaining more prominence in Australian racing and they hold their Tasmanian Summer Racing Carnival in January and February with multiple Group 3 races.
The Launceston Cup (2400m) takes place around two weeks after the Hobart Cup at Tasman Park in Launceston.
Canberra Racing Club has two major race days during the racing season and they are in March and November.
In March, the Group 3 Black Opal Stakes (1200m) for two-year-olds takes centre stage in Canberra on a Sunday, alongside the listed National Sprint (1400m) quality handicap.
The Canberra Cup (2000m) is a Listed race that takes place at the end of November and also held on a Sunday.
Racing in the Northern Territory is not of the highest quality and the major race club is at Fannie Bay, Darwin.
Darwin, located in the Northern Territory, is home to one of the great race days in Australia when the Darwin Cup meeting is run on the first Monday in August each year. The day itself sees racing fans from all over Australia head north to the NT to soak up the sunshine and the carnival atmosphere.
The top end comes alive as crowds in excess of 20,000 people congregate at Fannie Bay racecourse to enjoy a top day of racing in far north Australia.