Australians love their sport. In fact, they’re some of the most passionate sports fans on the planet, especially when the national side is going up against some familiar foes. Whether you’re moving to Australia or you’re from there, you’ll most definitely be aware of the country’s sporting prowess. People play specific sports everywhere and there are big sporting occasions on the calendar, especially when it comes to horse racing.
Horse racing is popular around the world, although perhaps not as much as it is Down Under. It’s actually the third most-watched sport alongside the big rugby encounters against the All Blacks and the fierce Australian rules football match-ups that garner huge interest. Attending some of Australia’s biggest horse races is a highlight on the sporting calendar. The atmosphere is excellent, there are ardent supporters everywhere, and there are some extremely talented jockeys and their horses that put on regular shows for audiences.
Although there are many events throughout the year, some horse races are bigger than others and come with a certain prestige that other races simply don’t. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the biggest horse races on the calendar in Australia.
A well-known race around the world and not just in Australia, the Melbourne Cup, also known locally as ‘the race that stops the nation’, is a truly iconic contest. It hogs the headlines in the build-up to it and, it’s viewed on television by millions, and it’s one of the sporting highlights of the year. There are some big prizes up for grabs, too, with the winner in 2022 taking home a share of the $8,000,000 purse for reigning supreme. Taking place at Flemington Racecourse every first Tuesday of November, it’s a sporting occasion that is steeped in history also, with the event first taking place in 1861. For sports fans, particularly in Australia, the Melbourne Cup is an unmissable event.
W.S Cox Plate
Put the date in your calendar – Saturday 22nd October. One of the most respected races in Australia, the W.S Cox Plate is an event for any thoroughbred horse and features some of the most skilled riders as they aim to tackle a notoriously difficult track in the Moonee Valley Race Course, with one out of 14 horses aiming to come out on top in the 2 040 meters race. Scheduled one month before the Melbourne Cup in October, it’s a race every jockey and trainer wants to win, especially given its history and the fact that is was founded by William Samuel Cox, the racing club’s founder. The W.S Cox Plate’s a big one for bettors, so be sure to check those free Saturday racing tips beforehand to make the most of your punting.
The Everest is – by quite a distance – the newest race on this list. But what it lacks in history, it makes up for in star power. The race was inaugurated in 2017, and its five runnnings so far have attracted some of the best talent from Australia and beyond. The key to attracting that talent? Dollars, and lots of them. It is the richest turf race on the planet, and it has an unusual entry system that sees owners buy slots for the participation of their horses. Nature Strip was the winner in 2021, and he is favourite to do it again when the race goes off on 15th October.
Queen Elizabeth Stakes
A Group One race that takes place in Sydney at the Royal Randwick Racecourse, the Queen Elizabeth Stakes first happened in 1851 and has since gone on to become one of the most respected race days around. It was even said to have been watched by Queen Elizabeth herself on a few occasions before she sadly passed away. It’s actually the third most important WFA race in Australia, too. For racing fans in Sydney, it’s an event that is not to be missed, particularly as it features some of the top horses and riders in the country.
Taking place in mid-October at the Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne, the Caulfield Cup is another unmissable horse racing occasion that is adored by horse racing nuts in the country. With the winning horse bringing home $5 000 000, it’s the world’s richest handicap race and has been wowing audiences since 1879, when the inaugural race took place. The competition originally hosted competitors from New Zealand and Australia, before taking on horses from other nations in more recent times. As such, it’s perhaps more competitive than it ever has been before.
Other big horse races on the calendar include the Golden Slipper Stakes, the Victoria Derby, and The All-Star Mile.