There aren’t many nations on earth that have more enthusiasm for horse racing than the Australians. Despite its vast size in terms of area, it has a population lower than Texas, yet it punches way above its weight when it comes to sports. And despite the fact the Aussies excel at cricket, rugby, and many other sports, they might just be the best pound-for-pound racing nation on the planet.
But while you might follow horse racing in the United States, the UK, or Europe, the Australians tend to have their own way of doing things. That means different styles of racing, unique terminologies for racing, and a distinct culture that surrounds the injury. But what are the facts about Australian racing that everyone should know? Let’s take a look:
What is the history of Australian racing?
Australia is obviously a “young country,” but its racing heritage can be traced to just after the start of the British Colonial Period, which began in 1778. By 1810, the region had thoroughbred racing, which is similar to many European countries in terms of history. By the mid-19th century, things really began to talk off. Australia had around 200 racing clubs by 1840. In the 20th century, it began to flex its muscles as a center for the racing and breeding of thoroughbred horses. Today, as mentioned, it has one of the biggest horse racing markets in the world.
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What are the most important Australian races?
Racing, like all sports, has a sense of subjectivity in terms of what is the best or the most important. Clearly, the Melbourne Cup is Australia’s most famous of all races. But it is not the ‘richest.’ That honor goes to The Everest, a recently-created race that is the richest purse in all of turf racing. The current purse for the race is worth $15 million AUD ($10.4 million US). Other important races include the WS Cox Plate, the Caulfield Cup, and Golden Slipper Stakes. In total, Australia has 74 Group 1 races. That’s more than double the number that the UK has.
Is Australian racing shown on television?
Yes. Sky Racing has the right to broadcast the vast majority of Australian racing. It’s for that reason, you might see pundits and experts talking about Skyracing tips, i.e., betting advice for the races that will be shown on television. Many of the races will be shown by international broadcasters, of course.
What are the best Australian race courses?
Again, we are talking about subjective opinions here. But the first name that springs to mind is Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, which is arguably the spiritual home of Australian racing. The Melbourne area also boasts venues like Moonee Valley, which holds the Cox Plate, and Caulfield. In Sydney, Royal Randwick and Rosehill are the standout venues. Doomben and Eagle Farm are two huge venues for racing in Brisbane, and Ascot – not the be confused with the British Ascot – is a jewel in Perth’s racing scene.
Does Australian racing take place all year round?
Good question. Yes, to an extent. However, the top-class racing action is a little bit more seasonal. Generally, you have the autumn season (February to May) and the spring season (August to November). The latter hosts most of the biggest races, including the Melbourne Cup.
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What is the Melbourne Cup?
The Melbourne Cup is the richest two-mile handicap in the world and is certainly one of the most prestigious. Taking place on the first Tuesday in November each year, the race draws the best in Australian talent, alongside some of the best international runners, trainers, and jockeys. It is called “the race that stops a nation,” and with good reason: it’s not just a sporting event, it’s a cultural one. The 2022 Melbourne Cup will take place on Tuesday 1st November.