The Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival 2016 offers some of the most spectacular racing events held in Australia, including the prized Group 1 Newmarket Handicap and the $1 million Blue Diamond Stakes. Held at Flemington, Caulfield and Moonee Valley, the carnival begins on the first day of January right through until Easter.
The carnival kicks off with the 1200m Standish Handicap Day and closes with the Easter Cup Day in April. Worth millions of dollars in prize money, the four month event attracts horses from around the country.
Flemington Autumn Racing Carnival
Standish Handicap Day
The Standish Handicap is a Group 3 open handicap raced over the 1200m straight at Flemington. Worth $200,000 in prize money, the race is held on the first day of the New Year and attracts plenty of sprinting horses eager to begin another year of racing.
Lightning Stakes Day
Worth half a million in prize money, the Group 1 Lightning Stakes is one of the premier sprinting events of the season which attracts plenty of horses aged three years and older. Raced down the Flemington 1000m straight course, the event is the held either late January or early February. One of the major winners of the race was Apache Cat in 2008.
The CS Hayes Stakes is a Group 3 race specifically for three year old colts and geldings. Worth $200,000 in prize money, the 1400m event is a set weight and penalties race which attracts horses with the potential to go on and race in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m).
The third major race held on the Lightning Stakes Day is the Group 3 Vanity Stakes. As the female equivalent to the CS Hayes Stakes, the event attracts the best three year old fillies from around the country eager to compete in the 1400m event and possibly win the $200,000 prize money.
The Group 1 Newmarket Handicap is one of two major races held on the jam-packed Super Saturday. Worth $1 million in prize money, the open handicap attracts the strongest sprinters from around Australia to compete in the 1200m event. The event has been won by plenty of superb sprinters including Scenic Blast (2009), Exceed and Excel (2004) and Schillaci (1992).
As the second major race on the day, the $1 million Australian Cup is the premier middle distance event held at Flemington. The Group 1 2000m race is held in early March and has also been won by remarkable horses such as Pompeii Ruler (2007), Makybe Diva (2005) and Vo Rogue (1989-90).
The Group 1 Australian Guineas is definitely one of the best mile events for three year olds in the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival and offers $750,000 in prize money. The 1600m race has set weight conditions, which allows the better racehorses to dominate the event.
Raced over a 1400m distance, the VRC Sires Produce Stakes is a timeless race for all emerging two year old horses. Worth $300,000 in prize money, the set weights events has a Group 2 status and is best suited to horses which have run strongly in the Blue Diamond Stakes held at Caulfield several weeks earlier.
The Group 2 Kewney Stakes is specifically for three year old fillies who can handle racing over one mile (1600m). Suited to the better fillies in the carnival due to the set weight conditions, the event is worth $300,000 in prize money.
The Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes gives two year old fillies the chance to excel without their male counterparts. The Group 3 set weights race is worth $150,000 in prize money and allows the fillies to sprint down Flemington’s 1200m straight.
As the last major race on Super Saturday, the Group 3 Frances Tressady Stakes is a set weights and penalties race for mares aged over four years. Worth $150,000 in prize money, the race attracts mares which can handle the 1400m distance such as Typhoon Tracy (2009) and Northern Song (2000).
Blamey Stakes Day
The Group 2 Blamey Stakes is a 1600m mile event for all horses aged three years and over. With set weights and penalties, the event attracts quality horses which normally go on to the Group 2 Carlyon Cup (1400m). Held in the second week of March, the race has been won by racing champions Apache Cat (2007) and Better Loosen Up (1990-91).
The Matron Stakes is a Group 3 set weights and penalties race for all mares aged four years and older. Worth $150,000 in prize money, the 1600m event is a relatively new race which was first held in 2002.
Caulfield Autumn Racing Carnival
Rubiton Stakes Day
Raced over an 1100m distance, the Group 3 Rubiton Stakes is a weight-for-age event which attracts horses which have previously won under weight-for-age conditions. Worth $100,000 in prize money, the Rubiton Stakes is held at Caulfield Racecourse early in January.
CF Orr Stakes Day
The CF Orr Stakes is a Group 1 event held in early February during the Caulfield Autumn Racing Carnival. Worth $300,000 in prize money, the weight-for-age event has attracted champion horses Maldivian (2009) and El Segundo (2007) who have won the 1400m event.
Worth $125,000 in prize money, the Group 3 Geoffrey Belmaine Stakes is a 1200m sprint event specifically for mares. The race has set weight and penalty conditions, which makes it easier for the better females to win.
The Group 3 Blue Diamond Prelude for colts and geldings is an 1100m sprinting event specifically for two year olds. The set weights and penalties race is worth $125,000 in prize money and is the lead-up race for the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) held in two weeks time. The other Blue Diamond Prelude race is specifically for two year old fillies and has the same race conditions.
Blue Diamond Stakes Day
The $1 million Blue Diamond Stakes is a Group 1 race which is the most prestigious race for two year olds during the Autumn Racing Carnival. Raced over a 1200m distance of Flemington, the set weights race is held in February and has been won by leading sprinters Redoutes Choice (1999) and Alinghi (2004).
The Oakleigh Plate is a Group 1 race which attracts all horses aged three years and over to compete in the 1100m sprint. Worth $350,000 in prize money, the open handicap is the lead-up race to the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m).
Regarded as the ideal lead-up race to the Group 1 Australian Cup, the 1800m St George Stakes is a Group 2 event which attracts plenty of middle-distance runners from the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes. Worth $200,000 in prize money, the weight-for-age event has been won by several outstanding horses including Pompeii Ruler (2007), Lonhro (2004) and Northerly (2002-03).
The $125,000 Autumn Stakes attracts three year old horses eager to compete over the 1400m race distance. The Group 2 race has set weight and penalty conditions and has been won by racing extraordinaire Apache Cat in 2006.
The Group 2 Angus Armanasco Stakes is a set weight race for three year old fillies. Attracting a good group of females, the 1600m event is worth $175,000 and many fillies go on to race in the Group 2 Kewney Stakes (1600m).
Worth $150,000 in prize money, the Carlyon Cup is a Group 3 race with set weight and penalty conditions. Raced over a 1400m distance, the horses featured in this event are generally above average horses such as Apache Cat (2007) and Northerly (2001).
Racing over a 1400m distance, mares entered in the Mannerism Stakes are generally good sprinters which go on to the Group 3 Frances Tressady Stakes (1600m). Worth $125,000 in prize money, this set weights and penalties event is the last major event held on the Blue Diamond Stakes Day.
Futurity Stakes Day
The Group 1 Futurity Stakes is held on the last Saturday of February during the Caulfield Spring Racing Carnival. Raced over 1600 meters, the weight-for-age race offers $700,000 in prize money and is suited to middle-distance race horses.
Worth $175,000 in prize money, the Autumn Classic is a Group 2 set weights race for horses aged three years and over. Raced over an 1800 meter distance, the event allows horses to test their abilities over a longer track.
Easter Cup Day
The Easter Cup is a 2000 metre open handicap which takes place during April near Easter Sunday. Offering $100,000 in prize money, the Group 3 race has produced several racing champions such as 2008 Cox Plate winner Maldivian.
Suited to horses capable of sprinting over the 1400m distance, the Group 3 Victoria Handicap is worth $100,000 in prize money. The open handicap race attracts many 1200m sprinters and strong milers.
Moonee Valley Autumn Racing Carnival
Carlyon Stakes Day
The Group 2 Carlyon Stakes is held at Moonee Valley racecourse during January. Worth $180,000 in prize money, the weight-for-age event is raced over a short 1200m distance and prepares horses for the Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1100m) and the Australia Stakes (1200m).
Australia Stakes Day
The Group 1 Australia Stakes is a 1200m sprint event worth half a million dollars in prize money and is held in mid-February. As a weight-for-age race, the Australia Stakes attracts sprinters which may go on to the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) or the Newmarket Handicap (1200m).
The Moonee Valley Oaks is a Group 2 set weight race for three year old fillies. Worth $200,000 in prize money, the 1500 meter event is also known as the “Moonee Valley Fillies Classic”.
Held specifically for three year old colts and geldings, the Group 2 Alistair Clark Stakes is a 1600 meter event worth $175,000 in prize money. Held at Moonee Valley Racecourse, the set weights and penalties race prepares the young milers for the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) held in three weeks time.
The Sunline Stakes is a 1600 meter mile event for fillies and mares and is worth $175,000 in prize money. As a Group 2 race with weight-for-age conditions, the Sunline Stakes attracts females suited to middle-distance races.