- Australians love of racing dates back more than 200 years. The first official race meeting in Australia was organised by officers of Governor Macquarie’s visiting 73rd Regiment and held at Hyde Park, in October 1810. Starting on Monday 15th and continuing on the Wednesday and the Friday. The meeting was also the first ever “racing carnival”.
- With more than 350 horse racing tracks, Australia has more racetracks than any other country in the world. These vary in quality and scale to include state of the art facilities such as Flemington and Royal Randwick in the major cities of Melbourne and Sydney, and much smaller tracks located in country towns that host “picnic” race meetings such as Hanging Rock in Victoria on Australia Day.
- Australia is the only country in the world that can lay claim to having a “Race that stops a Nation”. The Melbourne Cup, run on the first Tuesday in November brings workplaces and schools to a standstill as everyone huddles around televisions or radios to listen to or watch the 2-mile race at Flemington racecourse. Betting agencies enjoy their busiest day of the year and workplace sweepstakes are the norm. It is “Un-Australian” to not get involved.
- Australia’s best horses have conquered the world. The Colin Hayes trained Better Loosen Up was the trailblazer winning the 1990 Japan Cup in front of a crowd of 164,000 and showing that Australian horses were good enough to take on the world. In more recent times, the best sprinters have travelled to the Royal Ascot carnival to showcase their talents. A number of sprinters including Choisir, Takeover Target, Miss Andretti and the incomparable Black Caviar have all won down the straight at Royal Ascot.
- Fans of jumps racing in Australia are spoiled with two iconic carnivals each year. Every Easter in Oakbank South Australia, the best jumpers gather to race over two days. A number of hurdle and steeplechase races take place including the “Great Easter Steeplechase”.
The three-day Warrnambool Racing Carnival is a celebration of country racing and is held in May on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. 30 Races are run over the three days, 23 on the flat and 7 over the jumps with a number of horses backing up on Thursday after running on Tuesday. Huge crowds gather from all around country Victoria for the carnival with hotels and motels booked out months in advance.
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- Harness Racing commonly referred to as the “Trots” within Australia and New Zealand is a very popular spectator sport featuring standard bred horses who race with sulkies and “drivers”. There are close to 100 harness racing tracks within Australia and around 2,000 race meetings annually. While not having the same high profile as thoroughbred racing, millions of dollars are wagered annually on harness racing and the sport has a strong niche market within Australia.
Since 1936, the best trotters and pacers have gathered for the Inter Dominion Carnival. Horses battle it out in preliminary races in the hope of getting a spot in the “Inter Dominion Final” a race to crown the best horse harness horse in Australasia.
- Greyhound racing is an organized, competitive sport in which greyhounds are raced around a track chasing an artificial lure. Australia is one of eight countries in the world with a substantial greyhound racing industry and has over 60 active greyhound racing tracks. Relatively low entry costs mean that many Australians can get involved with greyhound ownership and a “night at the dogs” is a great night out for the family. In recent years greyhound racing has become more prominent and in 2019 the only day on the calendar without televised greyhound racing was Christmas Day.