The 2019 Spring Racing Carnival launch

The 2019 Victorian Spring Racing Carnival was launched at Half Acre, in South Melbourne

Star-studded launch party sets the Spring Racing Carnival alight

The 2019 Victorian Spring Racing Carnival took flight tonight with a galaxy of racing stars descending on Half Acre, in South Melbourne, to celebrate the launch of the three-month showpiece which for the first time this year offers more than $100 million in prizemoney and bonuses. 

Champion jockeys Damien Oliver, Glen Boss and Michelle Payne, whose greatest feats are inextricably linked to the Victorian Spring Racing Carnival, were amongst the stars gracing the red carpet alongside Gai Waterhouse, the first lady of Australian racing whose training feats and exuberant personality have made her a national icon.   

Equine stardust was added by Might and Power, who during an illustrious career on the track claimed seven Group 1s including three of Australian racing’s major prizes: the Caulfield Cup, Melbourne Cup (both 1997) and Cox Plate (1998).

All three current trophies were present, together with several country cups and the coveted silverware which will be awarded to the winners of four other feature races during this year’s Spring Racing Carnival: the Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas, Seppelt Mackinnon Stakes, AAMI Victoria Derby and Kennedy Oaks.

MC Hamish McLachlan oversaw the proceedings, which were jointly opened by Racing Victoria (RV) Chairman Brian Kruger and the Hon. Martin Pakula, Victoria’s Minister for Racing.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the arrival of the most exciting three months of the year, the Spring Racing Carnival, which sees the best horses, trainers and jockeys converge on Victoria for Australia’s greatest racing period,” said Kruger.

“The Spring Racing Carnival has a rich history and we want racing fans to join us this year in celebrating its greatest moments, as we get ready to anoint the stars and create new chapters in Australia’s greatest sporting novel.

“Great moments are made on racetracks across Victoria each spring, and this year will be no different.

“This Saturday at Caulfield marks the first of 13 weekends of world-class racing, and we are very proud to showcase 21 elite Group 1 races, 26 country cups and a record 16 races worth at least $1 million this Spring Racing Carnival.”

The curtain on this year’s carnival will be officially raised on Saturday (31 August) when Caulfield hosts Moët & Chandon Memsie Stakes Day, featuring the $1 million New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes (1400m).

The Ciaron Maher and David Eustace training partnership will be well represented in the opening Group 1 contest of the Spring Racing Carnival and the pair were on hand to analyse the chances of defending champion Humidor and Cliff’s Edge, whilst Maher also reflected on his breakthrough Caulfield Cup win with Jameka in 2016.

Jockey Anthony Darmanin spoke of his association with star Tasmanian mare Mystic Journey, who took her run of consecutive wins to seven with victory in the Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) and is widely expected to be one of the carnival’s leading lights. 

The 2019 Victorian Spring Racing Carnival will see a record 16 races offering prizemoney of $1 million or more, including the 142nd Stella Artois Caulfield Cup ($5 million, 2400m) at Caulfield on Saturday, 19 October; the 99th Ladbrokes Cox Plate ($5 million, 2040m) at The Valley on Saturday, 26 October; and the 159th Lexus Melbourne Cup ($8 million, 3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday, 5 November.

Through contributions from the Victorian Government, the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) and RV, total prizemoney and bonuses on offer across the Spring Racing Carnival has increased by $18 million from 2018 to further strengthen the local and international appeal of the event.

Those increases are spread from standard country meetings to 63 Group and Listed races, with $5 million in bonuses introduced to further incentivise participation in Victoria’s premier three-year-old and mile races, as well as the Cox Plate.

The Spring Racing Carnival welcomed its 250th internationally-trained horse to Victoria last year, with entries from Japan, England, Ireland, Germany and possibly France bound for Melbourne to contest feature races this October and November.

Thoroughbred racing delivers an annual $3.2 billion economic benefit to Victoria, supporting 25,000 equivalent full-time jobs, with the Spring Racing Carnival alone worth $760 million to the state.