SportingPedia’s Guide to Australia’s Spring Racing Carnival

Australia’s Spring Carnival is one of the jewels of the sporting calendar Down Under – as well as being known worldwide too – and horse racing fans are eagerly awaiting the 2020 running of the famous festival.

There are two Spring Carnivals in Australian horse racing: the Sydney Racing Carnival and Melbourne Racing Carnival. The former features the Epsom Handicap as one of the headline events, while the latter is far bigger with Australia’s biggest three races part of the programme.

The Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate are known the big three and headline the Melbourne Spring Carnival at Flemington Racecourse, Caulfield Racecourse and Moonee Valley Racecourse.

The five biggest races to look forward to are:

Melbourne Cup: One of the biggest races in the world, not just Australia. It is the richest handicap anywhere on the planet and attracts the best two-mile flat horses from Europe and Japan. The Melbourne Cup takes place on the first Tuesday in November each year with the day also a public holiday in Melbourne. At 3pm, the entire country comes to a standstill to watch the race – and that is why it is known as the Race That Stops A Nation.

Caulfield Cup: The second of the Spring Carnival majors, the Caulfield Cup is another rich handicap that often pits the best mile-and-a-half horses from around the globe. The race takes place in mid-October and is usually a very good guide to the Melbourne Cup two-and-a-half weeks later.

Cox Plate: The tight turns of Moonee Valley Racecourse ensure the Cox Plate is a great spectacle. The format of the race does too, and is why it is known as the weight-for-age championship. Younger horses take on more mature stars in the Cox Plate and it is one of the most anticipated every year in October.

Caulfield Guineas: Three-year-olds clash in the Caulfield Guineas at Caulfield in October in what is a stallion-making contest. Run over a mile, the winner of the Caulfield Guineas is usually top class and a future star of the racecourse or the breeding barns.

Memsie Stakes: There are plenty of other races that could make the shortlist – the Victoria Derby, the Turnbull Stakes, VRC Sprint Classic and Mackinnon Stakes among them – but the Memsie Stakes is in the top five for what it represents. Held at Caulfield in August or September, the seven-furlong race signifies the first Group 1 of the Spring Carnival in Melbourne and whets the appetite for what is to come.