Horse racing has long been known as ‘the sport of kings’ with the very roots of the sport tied to Central Asia in approximately 4500 BC. Delving into the fascinating history of Spring Racing Carnival facts and figures presents us with a span of over 160 years of Australian horse racing to be explored.
What is the Spring Carnival in Australia?
The Spring Racing Carnival in Australia began with prominent horse races being staged as stand-alone events rather than a carnival. Today the Spring Racing Carnival consists of many different events over the course of the spring months and here we present a few interesting Spring Racing Carnival facts relating to each of the major races.
The Caulfield Cup is one of Australia’s richest thoroughbred races, with the winning purse as of 2020 totalling $5,000,000. The first Caulfield Cup was held in 1879 with the winner being Newminster. The most recent winner of the cup was Verry Elleegant in 2020 who was the $5 favourite though he only won by a short neck. Verry Elleegant is also the favourite for the 2021 race with $13 odds. The current distance of the Group 1 race is 2400 metres on turf and run under handicap conditions. It is usually highly likely that many of the horses who run in this race will also have a spot in the Melbourne Cup.
The $5,000,000 Cox Plate was first run in 1922 at the Moonee Valley Racecourse and is known as the ‘race where legends are made’. Phar Lap won the cup in 1930 before going on to become possibly the most famous horse to ever win the Melbourne Cup, returning to win the plate again in 1931. Kingston Town won three in a row 1980-1982 while Winx won an amazing four times in a row from 2015-2018. The most recent winner of the Plate was Sir Dragonet from Ireland who won the 2020 race with odds of 13-2, beating favourite, Russian Camelot, who placed third.
The Victoria Derby is a 2500m race held at Flemington Racecourse. As one of the most important Spring Racing Carnival facts, this is one of the oldest horse racing events in Australia, being inaugurated in 1855 before the Melbourne Cup. Total prize money for this race is $2,000,000. The distance of the race was changed in 1972 from 1½ miles to 2400m in line with Australia’s change to the metric system. It was again changed in 1973 to 2500m, the length at which it has remained ever since. Clare Lindop was the first female jockey to compete in the Victoria Derby in 2005 and the first to win in 2008.
The first Melbourne Cup in 1861 was won by Archer, a bay stallion from NSW. Legend has it that the horse walked all the way from Sydney to Melbourne to run the race, but in fact he travelled by steamboat. Archer also won the Melbourne Cup the next year in 1862 and is one out of three horses to ever win the cup twice in a row. The Melbourne Cup is the longest race in the Spring Racing Carnival with a length of 3200m and has a total prize money of $8,000,000. Legendary trainer, Bart Cummings, has won the Melbourne Cup an astounding 12 times with 11 different horses.
With such a long and diverse history, there are plenty of interesting Spring Racing Carnival facts to be explored and future years of the carnival promise to showcase many more.
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