It was back in the beginning of February when the Festival of Racing kicked off with a fun-filled family day at Caulfield and the first Group One of the year. We went on to spend our Friday nights under the lights at The Valley, visited a host of Country Cups and witnessed some of Australia’s best horses thunder down the famous Flemington straight.
As we reflect on the last six weeks there’s been so many highlights that we can’t list them all, however we have put together some of our highlights from the Festival of Racing that was!
Back-to-back Newmarket Handicaps for Redkirk Warrior
It’s safe to say that the Festival of Racing started well for Redkirk Warrior, who under the guidance of Regan Bayliss, stormed home to take out the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington. The pair then had success three weeks later in the Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m), the same race they won last year. It made quite the birthday celebration for Bayliss who turned 21 only a few days later.
Flemington Grazing Trail & Cellar Door
The Flemington Grazing Trail and Cellar Door was a standout on Super Saturday, showcasing a fantastic selection of Victoria’s best boutique wineries, breweries and producers. The sunshine, blue skies and leafy greens of the elms on the west end of Flemington’s front lawn made it an absolute delight to meander and sample – it was easy to see why this is a favourite amongst racegoers and foodies alike.
Wangaratta Racing, Food & Wine Carnival
According to Ambassador Georgia Love, the Wangaratta Racing, Food & Wine Carnival had everything you needed for a long weekend in country Victoria, and she was quite right! Held over two days, the Carnival was a weekend full of action on and off the track. There was more than $400,000 in prizemoney across the day’s racing, some of the region’s best food and wine producers and an impressive seven categories in the fashion stakes. We can’t wait for next year!
Super heroes theme on C.F. Orr Stakes Family Day
Super heroes were the theme of the day on C.F. Orr Stakes Day and there was nothing better than seeing the youngest of racegoers decked out in their super hero costumes trackside. Add to that, kid’s activities galore, making Family Day the perfect day out!
Bondi Sands Pool Party at Caulfield Racecourse
Need we say more? A pool trackside, how amazing! Over the Festival of Racing, the Bondi Sands Pool Party was the place to be and to be seen. Attended by some well-known faces including Steph Claire Smith, Natalie Roser and Adam D’Sylva, it featured summer lounges, burgers by Royale Brothers, cocktails and a live DJ. Where else would you want to be?
William Reid Stakes Night at The Valley
It was a balmy evening for the close of Friday Night Lights, with food trucks and entertainment galore, including racegoers partaking a 155m sprint on the course proper! While Darren Weir had great success on the night, including the Group 1 Keogh Homes William Reid Stakes (1200m), it was the final of the Ladbrokes 55 Second Challenge and the sportsmanship shown by trainer John Macmillan that caught our attention.
Macmillan stepped in to strap the winner, Sunday Escape, for trainer Andrew Murray who had been strapping the horse that night. It allowed Murray the opportunity to be presented with a cheque of $55,000 for Sunday Escape, his only horse in work, who broke the 55 second mark to claim the bonus. This was despite Macmillan being set to take home half of the cheque for himself pre-race, with his horse Mile High tied with Angry Gee for the fastest time of 55.12 seconds before it was bettered by Sunday Escape. It made for a very special moment in racing.