Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival

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The Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival is the name of an Australian Thoroughbred horse racing series held annually in Melbourne during October and November.

The Carnival and its status in the wider community[edit]

Although racing in Australia is held every day except Christmas Day, the Group One races in Melbourne are held almost exclusively throughout the carnival, which is traditionally placed between the football and cricket seasons. During the winter (where football is dominant), and summer (where cricket is dominant), racing takes a 'back seat' position in relation to the cricket or football in terms of media coverage and attendances. However, in spring and autumn, the mass media turns its attention to the racing. There is also a Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival, a time where Group One races are also held.


Year Derby Day Melbourne Cup Oaks Stakes Melbourne Cup Carnival Total Caulfield Cup Cox Plate
2007 115,705 102,411 95,230 84,067 397,413
2006 129,069 106,691 104,131 78,151 418,042[1] 47,551[2] 34,256[3]
2005 115,660 106,479 100,263 61,382 383,784 93,825 44,189[4]


The carnival, and particularly the Melbourne Cup attracts the interest of many people otherwise uninterested in horse racing, and special forms of very low-stake gambling are often used for this event. One common form for groups such as office staff is the "sweep", where each participant adds a small fee to a "pot" and draws the name of a horse like a raffle. Prize money is distributed to the person who draws the winning horse (occasionally smaller prizes are awarded to placegetters and the last-placing horse). A more complex and high-stakes form of the sweep is the "Calcutta", often held as a fundraising event for community organisations, which begins as in the sweep (though usually with a much higher initial stake), but which allows ticket holders to trade their tickets through an auction system.

Special Guests[edit]

For the fashion part of the Spring Racing Carnival many special judges have come to the races. 2003: Paris Hilton 2004: Carson Kressley 2005: Eva Longoria 2006: Andrea Bowen 2007: Carson Kressley

Carnival Race Meetings[edit]

The Spring Carnival is made up of meetings held by the metropolitan clubs, where Group One races take place, and also at Geelong and Bendigo. With numerous group races during August and September at metropolitan tracks Flemington, Caulfield and Moonee Valley, the Spring Carnival officially starts on the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes Day at Flemington, one week after the AFL Grand Final. The Spring Racing Carnival officially ends on the final day of the Sandown Carnival, Eclipse Stakes day.

Caulfield Carnival[edit]

The Melbourne Racing Club holds three race meetings at Caulfield Racecourse, each with major Group one races.

Geelong Carnival[edit]

The Geelong Racing Club hosts its Group 3 Geelong Cup on the Wednesday between the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate. The meeting also has a couple of Listed races, The 3YO Geelong Classic and The Rosemont Stud Stakes. The day is a public holiday in Geelong's metropolitan area.

Moonee Valley Carnival[edit]

The Moonee Valley Racing Club holds a two-day carnival. The Manikato Stakes is held on the Friday night following the Caulfield Cup. The club's highlight is the Weight for Age Cox Plate race held on the next day with a host of other Group races including the Moonee Valley Gold Cup.

Bendigo Carnival[edit]

The Bendigo Jockey Club hosts its Group 3 Bendigo Cup on the Wednesday between the Cox Plate and the VRC Derby Day.

Flemington Carnival[edit]

The Victoria Racing Club's meetings attract the most attention from the media and the wider community.

  • The Victoria Derby is held on the Saturday before the Melbourne Cup. It is a set-weights race for three-year-old horses. There are also other major races held on this day as well, making it the biggest day in racing.
  • The Melbourne Cup[5] handicap race is held on the first Tuesday in November, and is a public holiday in Victoria, but the Cup is witnessed by those all around Australia as well as internationally.
  • The VRC Oaks race is held on the Thursday following the Cup. It is a three-year-old fillies race, and traditionally it has been known as 'ladies' day'.
  • The VRC Stakes day is held on the Saturday following the Oaks, and traditionally it has been known as 'family day'.

Sandown Carnival[edit]

The Melbourne Racing Club holds the last official meeting of the Spring Racing Carnival at Sandown Racecourse. This day includes the Group 2 Sandown Classic and the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes and occurs in mid November.




  • Power, Emily, ed. (2012). Fashion & Flemington: Celebrating 50 years of Fashions on the Field. Richmond, Vic.: Slattery Media Group. ISBN 9781921778599. 

External links[edit]