One of the world’s most iconic racing events, the Victorian Spring Racing Carnival, officially kicked off on Saturday at Caulfield with a revamped racing program unveiled for 2023.
Victoria will host an additional weekend of elite Group 1 racing with the new Schweppes Caulfield Thousand meeting set to entertain fans on Saturday, 18 November.
The new raceday will build on the sport’s momentum through the Melbourne Cup Carnival and is part of a push to enhance the state’s racing and entertainment offering in November and December.
Running from 2 September to 3 December 2023, Victoria’s expanded Spring Racing Carnival will offer a staggering $117 million in prizemoney and bonuses for local and international competitors.
It commenced with a bang at Saturday’s Stow Storage Caulfield Spring Opener with star galloper Mr Brightside claiming the first Group 1 of the season, the $750,000 Stow Storage Memsie Stakes (1400m).
Headlining the world class racing across the coming three months will be the marquee trio of the $8.4 million Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) on 7 November, the $5.15 million Carlton Draught Caulfield Cup (2400m) on 21 October, and the $5.05 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) on 28 October.
Whilst the spotlight will shine brightest on Melbourne where 21 elite Group 1 races are scheduled, it is country Victoria where the most heartwarming stories will evolve.
Avoca, Dunkeld, Gunbower and Wycheproof are set to welcome back crowds to their annual Cup meeting for the first time since 2019 after the pandemic and floods derailed plans over the last three years.
They’re among 27 Country Cups that will bring communities together across the state this spring for a day of socialising, entertainment and fun.
A memorable raceday experience will be the hot favourite this spring with new precincts like Palooza at Flemington and Wilderland at Caulfield set to prove popular with racing fans and partygoers.
Fashions on the Field competitions will again feature at racedays across the state with international and photo entries now accepted for some of the headline metropolitan events.
Among the many other storylines and enhancements this Spring Racing Carnival are:
• The 30th anniversary of international competition in the Victorian Spring Racing Carnival will be celebrated after Ireland’s Vintage Crop blazed a trail to win the 1993 Melbourne Cup;
• It is another Irish horse, the Willie Mullins-trained Vauban, that holds favouritism for the Lexus Melbourne Cup, where local talents Goldman (Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott) and Lunar Flare (Grahame Begg) await after winning Golden Ticket entry races earlier in 2023;
• Western Australia’s budding superstar and Ladbrokes Cox Plate nominee, Amelia’s Jewel, will make her much-anticipated eastern states debut at Flemington on 16 September before heading to the opening of The Valley’s night racing season on 29 September;
• The new Schweppes Caulfield Thousand raceday on 18 November will be spearheaded by the $1.5 million Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m) and the $1 million Neds Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) which have been relocated from October and September respectively;
• A new $500,000 Country Cups Final (2000m), which will bring together the best-performed horses from Victoria’s 55 annual Country Cups, will be run at Caulfield on 18 November also;
• The $2 million Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes (1200m) finds a permanent home on Ladbrokes Cox Plate Day at The Valley after a late change owing to wet weather brought the two races together in 2022;
• The Group 1 Live Life Foundation Underwood Stakes (1800m) will celebrate its centenary edition at the venue where it was run from 1948 to 2020 with a return to Caulfield on Saturday, 23 September; and
• TAB Champions Stakes Day returns to Flemington on Saturday, 11 November after a stunning revamp in 2022 with a trio of $3 million Champions races over 1200m, 1600m and 2000m.
Racing Victoria Chief Executive, Andrew Jones, said: “The Victorian Spring Racing Carnival is world renowned and it’s even better in 2023 with a revamped racing program. We’re delivering more feature racing at times when fans can best engage.
“The new Schweppes Caulfield Thousand meeting on 18 November is an exciting addition to our spring schedule. It carries the momentum of Melbourne Cup week further into spring.
“With 14 weekends of feature racing, 21 Group 1 races and 27 Country Cups, spring is packed for action and great storylines.
“As we mark our 30th anniversary of international competition, we’re ready to again see our best take on challengers from across the globe here in Victoria.
“Spring racing is all about having fun, socialising with family and friends, and enjoying world class racing action. From Flemington, Caulfield and The Valley to our many picturesque country tracks.
“Our Clubs have wonderful raceday experiences planned and exceptional hospitality on offer. It is time to escape the winter blues and celebrate spring in style at the races.”