What Are Australia’s Most Famous Horse Races?

By Laura Graham, Sydney
24 April 2019

Australia is world renowned for having some of the best and richest horse races on the global racing calendar. There wouldn’t be too many people in racing circles who haven’t heard of the Melbourne Cup, for example.

Along with the race that stops a nation, what are some of the best known Australian horse races in no particular order of notoriety? 

W.S. Cox Plate

This is a trophy every trainer, jockey and horse owner wants to win.

The Cox Plate is a weight for age race for horses 3 years old and above. It’s run annually in late October at Melbourne’s Moonee Valley Racecourse, known for its tight bends and ability to sort the best horses from the rest.

The race is a precursor to the upcoming Melbourne Cup, with some Cup starters appearing in the Cox Plate

The field for this 2040m race is restricted to just 14 entrants; the best of the best of Australian and New Zealand racing.

The W.S. Cox Plate is the richest weight for age race in Australia, and one of the richest races overall. 

Caulfield Cup

The Caulfield Cup is one of the country’s richest and most prestigious horse races, and once again the race is run on a Melbourne track, this time at Caulfield Racecourse. The race has been going strong since way back in 1879.

The 2400m event is limited to 18 starters and is a great lead up race to the Melbourne Cup, which is run just a few weeks later. The Caulfield Cup is considered to be the world’s richest handicap horse race run over that distance.

Up until 1998 the race was only open to entrants from Australia and New Zealand, but now it’s become a truly international affair.

Horses must be aged 3 years and over to be eligible, and if a horse wins both the Caulfield Cup and the Melbourne Cup, they have achieved what’s termed the “Cups Double”, a feat that hasn’t been seen since Ethereal did it in 2001. 

The Melbourne Cup

The great race. The Melbourne Cup. Most likely Australia’s most famous horse race, as well as being one of the oldest and richest.

Every year the entire country comes to a standstill on the first Tuesday of November to watch some of the best horses in the world battle it out over 3200m, all vying to stake a claim in Australian horse racing history.

Melbourne Cup 2019 is shaping up to be bigger and better than ever

It’s a classic weight for age handicap race where up to 24 horses are allowed to compete. These days much of the field is comprised of international horses, spreading the fame of this great race all around the globe.

Who do you think will win it this year?

Golden Slipper Stakes

The Golden Slipper Stakes is a race for juvenile horses aged 2 years and has been run on turf annually at Rosehill Gardens Racecourse in Sydney since 1957. The race takes place in April and is a part of the Golden Slipper Carnival.

This thoroughbred race is a true sprint affair at the short distance of just 1200m. It’s Australia’s 4th richest race on the calendar, and the world’s richest race for 2 year old thoroughbreds.

Many a champion racehorse has risen to stardom after winning the Golden Slipper Stakes.

Shane Dye is the jockey with the most Golden Slipper victories, having ridden a winner 4 times. For trainers, both Gai Waterhouse and T.J. Smith have 6 wins to their credit. 

The Everest

The Everest is the world’s richest horse race, with a prize purse in 2019 of $13 million!

The race was only first run in October of 2017, and while it might not be one of the most famous horse races at this stage, I guarantee it soon will be.

The Everest is a race with a difference. Horses can’t just be automatically entered, and there is no ballot system. The only way to enter a horse into The Everest is by parting with a cool $600,000 entry fee.

Now that’s a lot of cash, but for many it’s worth the gamble because of all the prize money at stake and the notoriety.

Keep your eyes on this race.

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