The 2017 Spring Racing Carnival kicks off this Saturday with the season's first Group 1 race, the $1million New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes at Caulfield. Melbourne Racing Club are offering all AFL Club members free entry as well as a mini Gin Festival at their new Tanqueray Lawn. All the action from Sydney's Chelmsford Stakes Day (and Winx's shot at 19 straight wins), will also be shown live.
*It's not Cox Plate Day without Daryl! Image courtesy MVRC
With program changes and prize money boosts across the whole Carnival, it'll no doubt be an exciting 86-day extravaganza! With so many fantastic metropolitan and country race meets, as well as numerous supporting parties and luncheons, it can be hard to narrow down what to attend. So here's my Top 5 Spring Carnival events that should be on your radar:
LADBROKES CAULFIELD GUINEAS DAY - Saturday 14th October
Day one of the 3-day Caulfield Cup Carnival, Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas Day sees the running of four elite races including the $2million Group 1 Caulfield Guineas, The Caulfield Stakes, the Schweppes Thousand Guineas for the fillies and the time-honoured Toorak Handicap. Off the track, the David Jones Fashion Stable is back with the Westfield Style Stakes fashion competition. Secure you spot in either The Moet & Chandon Lawn or The Local before rocking out at The Front Bar with ARIA award winning band, The Temper Trap!
Guineas Day also coincides with the day Sydneysiders will flock to Royal Randwick for the inaugural running of racing's newest event, The Everest. In the world's richest turf race, twelve slot-holders will put their best horses forward to compete for the $10million purse, in this 1200m weight-for-age event.
FINAL FIELD COX PLATE LUNCH - Friday 27th October
Now in it's 8th year, the Final Field Cox Plate Lunch always guarantees a fantastic day full of amazing guest speakers, entertainment, prizes and business networking opportunities. Get a table with your mates or treat your clients or staff. This year's edition will be held at Etihad Stadium and racing.com's Shane Anderson is back as host. I've had a sneak peek at this year's VIP guest list, and coupled with Final Field's recent merge with Melbourne Network, this very well could be their biggest and best lunch yet!
LADBROKES COX PLATE - Saturday 28th October
Surely I don't need to explain the inclusion here...but just in case...an intimate racecourse, one of our most prestigious races and singing along to Daryl Braithwaite's Horses with 26,000 other racegoers! The Melbourne Cup won't be the only race that stops the nation this year as no doubt the entire country will be tuning in as Winx attempts to match Kingston Town's record of 3 wins. With the majority of hospitality booking out in record time, there's still tickets available in the new The Valley Precinct so head over to Moonee Valley Racing Club's website today and be there to witness history. Why not make a full weekend of it - start at Final Field's Cox Plate Lunch, cap off the day at Moonee Valley's Manikato Stakes night meeting before studying the form over Saturday morning brunch at a local cafe and backing up for Cox Plate Day!
AAMI VICTORIA DERBY DAY - Saturday 4th November
It's tough to pick just one day of Flemington's 4-day Carnival, but Victoria Derby Day is touted by many as being a racing purist's Christmas Day. Whether you're being spoilt in the Chairman's Lounge, rubbing shoulders with celebrities in the Birdcage or hanging with your mates in the Nursery, Derby Day is known for its sophisticated elegance and tasteful indulgence. The day features Nine Group races, with four at the elite Group 1 level, including the $1.5 million Derby, the classic premier staying race for 3 year olds. It's black, it's white and it's timeless.
THE EMERALD HOTEL
Ok so this isn't a specific event, but if you're keen to rub shoulders with the who's who of the racing industry but can't make it to the track, South Melbourne's Emerald Hotel is your next best thing. It's a hot spot for racing's midweek catch ups and post-race celebrations. They're hosting a Spring Carnival launch on Saturday 7th October - keep an eye on their website for details.
HONOURABLE MENTIONS (because let's face it, this really could have been a Top 10!)
Underwood Stakes Day - nurse your Grand Final hangover at Caulfield while the kids are entertained on the Clip Clop Club rides and activities.
Cox Plate Breakfast with the Best - Beat the sunrise and see the best in their final trackwork appearances before the big race.
Sofitel Girls Day Out at Flemington - Frock up and pop the champagne with the squad.
Country Cup Racedays - Benalla, Mornington, Manangatang, Ballarat and everywhere in between.
Victoria Racing Club's Oaks Club Ladies Lunch - If only for the goodie bags!
Racing Victoria's dedicated Carnival website www.springracingcarnival.com.au has a general overview of all events and racedays but if you know what you're after, I suggest going direct to the race clubs. So check your calendar, book your tickets, buy your outfit and I'll see you trackside for what will no doubt be another fantastic and history-making Spring Racing Carnival!
*Images courtesy of Onya Magazine, Fox Sports, MVRC, MRC