Horses at the gates for the start of Australian racing's most coveted carnival

With a record $110 million on offer and an enhanced feature race program which extends the action through until the end of November, the Victorian Spring Racing Carnival will embark on a new era when the 2021 edition officially opens at Caulfield this Saturday (28 August).

Moët and Chandon Memsie Stakes Day is the opening act of an equine spectacle which is set to cement Victoria as Australian racing’s spiritual home, with 146 meetings featuring 116 Stakes races, 22 contests worth at least $1 million, 21 Group 1s, 27 Country Cups and more than $110m in prizemoney and bonuses up for grabs across the next three months. 

“The start of the 2021 Spring Racing Carnival is always one of the most exciting times of the year, as we look ahead to three months of world-class racing in Melbourne supported by the best of regional racing held right across Victoria,” said Giles Thompson, Racing Victoria’s (RV) Chief Executive Officer.

“We were delighted to announce a series of enhancements recently to ensure that the Victorian Spring Racing Carnival remains the premier destination for Australasia’s – and indeed some of the world’s – best horses and a spring focal point for sports fans.

“Whilst we don’t yet know whether significant crowds will be able to attend the races this year, what we do know is that the Spring Racing Carnival remains an iconic global event that has witnessed some of the greatest moments in the history of Australian racing, and we look forward to seeing more unforgettable memories being created this year.

“As always, the wellbeing of our equine and human athletes remains at the top of our minds, and for this reason Racing Victoria will continue to deliver world-leading safety measures as we seek to celebrate the stars of the turf this spring.”

Saturday’s feature race, the Group 1 Moët & Chandon Memsie Stakes (1400m), has attracted a quality line-up of horses from near and far, with headline acts from South Australia, Western Australia, New South Wales and New Zealand all intent on adding their names to a rollcall of winners which stretches as far back as 1899.     

They include the pride of South Australia Behemoth, who is aiming to defend his crown under Melbourne’s leading jockey Jamie Kah; Mike Moroney’s multiple Group 1 winner Tofane; Western Australian raider Inspirational Girl, who has nine wins and three minor placings for her leviathan owner Bob Peters; James Cummings’ Group 1 Australasian Oaks winner Colette; and crack Kiwi contender Aegon, who will have his first run in Victoria for the training team of Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman.        

There is no shortage of quality on the support card either, with Jamie Richards’ high-class mare Probabeel set to kick off her spring campaign in the Group 3 Cockram Stakes (1200m). 

Looking further ahead, the 2021 Spring Racing Carnival will again be headlined by the three majors: the 144th edition of the $5m Carlton Draught Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on Saturday, 16 October; the 101st running of the $5m Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley on Saturday, 23 October; and the 161st running of the $8m Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday, 2 November. 

But racing in the regions is as much a part of the Spring Carnival as the major meetings, with 27 country cups run at some of Australia’s most picturesque racetracks culminating in the $300,000 Jericho Cup (4600m), Australasia’s longest flat race which brings the curtain down on the carnival at Warrnambool on Sunday, 28 November.

The Jericho Cup takes place one day after the revamped Zipping Classic Day, which will move to Caulfield from Sandown this year. The meeting will be headlined by the Group 2 Zipping Classic (2400m), which will be worth $750,000 – an increase of $500,000 on last year’s prize purse.