The Spring Racing Carnival attracts the world’s finest thoroughbreds to Victoria in pursuit of eye-watering prize purses, unrivalled accolades and a place in the history books. It is arguably the greatest event in the entire global racing calendar, steeped in heritage and packed full of prestigious Group 1 contests. The huge races come in thick and fast between September and November and punters will wager millions of dollars on the action. Here are the five biggest Spring Racing Carnival races to look out for in 2019:
The $2 million Caulfield Guineas has been held on the second Saturday in October every year since Wheatear stormed to victory in 1881. The illustrious roll call of winners over the years includes such legends as Lonhro, Starspangledbanner and Manikato. It is the most important race for three-year-olds during the Spring Racing Carnival and it always draws a stellar field to Caulfield Racecourse. Champions often become valuable studs and many leading owners will be desperate for their runners to salute in 2019. If you check out the Australian horse racing odds you will see all manner of superstar three-year-olds vying for glory in big races, and the best of the best will contend the Caulfield Guineas on October 12.
The Caulfield Cup is one of the biggest races in the Australian calendar and it always draws an elite line-up of world-class stayers. They battle it out over 2400m under handicap conditions at Caulfield as the well-heeled crowd roars in anticipation. Prize money for the Caulfield Cup now stands at a cool $5 million, the prestige associated with victory is immense and only the best in the business need apply. The field is limited to 18 stayers aged three years and older. Wins, places and prize money earned in the build-up determine eligibility, while whoever wins the Toorak Handicap, Herbert Power Stakes and the Mornington Cup gains an automatic place. Last year Best Solution recovered from a poor start and landed a thrilling victory ahead of Homesman, with a photo finish required to determine the result. It forms the Spring Cups double along with the Melbourne Cup and it also serves as a key lead up race for the race that stops a nation.
W.S. Cox Plate
The $5 million Cox Plate has turned into a one-horsed race in recent years as the wondermare Winx has absolutely dominated proceedings. She went off at $4.60 in 2015 and ended up setting a new course record to obliterate her rivals. She returned the following year for an epic duel with the iconic Hartnell, and she trounced him to win by eight lengths. In 2017, she was priced at just $1.10 to make it three wins on the bounce. She almost lost her long unbeaten record, but she produced a stunning comeback to edge Humidor on the home straight. She won a record fourth Cox Plate by brushing aside the challenge of Benbatl last year. However, Winx has now retired after securing a 33rd consecutive victory in the $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes in April, and that will finally give everyone else a chance of success in 2019. The race was named after the founder of Mooney Valley Racing Club, and other famous winners over the years include Makybe Diva and Phar Lap. We are bound to see a superstar field this year and it will be thrilling to see who follows in Winx’s footsteps.
The Group 1 AAMI Victoria Derby was inaugurated all the way back in 1855, when star filly Rose of May saluted. It has gone on to become one of the most important races in the world for three-year-old stayers and late bloomers that are on an upward curve havefared well in recent years. The $2 million race takes place on November 2 at Flemington this year and it should be another fiercely competitive event. Favourites have a poor record here, winning just two of the last 10 races, so punters might find some great value further down the card. The Victoria Derby is run over 2500m and it requires a blend of pace, guts and endurance. Nominations will take place on September 24, with the final field and barrier draw announced on October 29
This is Australia’s most famous race and 650 million people around the world tune in to watch the action unfold. It is such a big deal in Victoria that the state declares a public holiday every year on Melbourne Cup Day, the first Tuesday of November. No wonder it is dubbed the race that stops a nation. Prize money stands at $8 million for 2019 and it is the most prestigious race of the year, so the final nominations are always packed full of superstar stayers from around the world. They slog it out over a gruelling 3200m at Flemington, as 100,000 snappily dressed punters watch on. It has been held since 1861 and it never fails to deliver drama and excitement. In 2015, $101 roughie Prince of Penzance won the race, showing just how open and entertaining it is.