Ruby Brownless, Kylie Brown, Nadia Bartel, Dom Bagnato, Lana Wilkinson, Lucy Brownless and Georgia Connelly at the Spring Racing Carnival Launch at Greenfields on September 01, 2017 in Albert Park, Australia. (Alice Laidlaw /Racing Photos)
The 2017 Spring Racing Carnival, which features 136 meetings carrying record prizemoney of more than $77 million, has been officially unveiled at a star-studded launch in Melbourne today.
The gathering at Greenfields, Albert Park was held on the eve of Saturday’s $1 million New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield – the beginning of three months of world class thoroughbred racing across Victoria.
The Memsie Stakes, for which prizemoney has been doubled this year, is the first of 21 Group 1 races across the Spring Racing Carnival, which concludes on Saturday, 25 November with its 26th country cup meeting, the Sportsbet Ballarat Cup.
Racing Victoria Chief Executive, Giles Thompson, said the 2017 Spring Racing Carnival is set to further enhance the global appeal of Victorian racing.
“The Spring Racing Carnival is Australia’s most famous racing carnival attracting annual attendances of 650,000 and generating over $700 million in economic benefit for the state of Victoria,” Thompson said.
“It is also widely respected internationally and a target for the world’s best trainers and jockeys. Having celebrated our 200th international competitor last year, we are again set to welcome horses from seven countries to Victoria this spring.
“With so many storylines waiting to be written across three months of world class racing, the stage is set for another memorable Spring Racing Carnival commencing with tomorrow’s $1 million Memsie Stakes at Caulfield.
"While the spotlight has always shone brightest on Victorian racing in October and November, we’re making a concerted effort to showcase our racing throughout September - the opening month of the Spring Racing Carnival.
“With meetings like tomorrow’s Memsie Stakes, Sofitel Girls’ Day Out at Flemington (16 September) and the launch of the night racing season at Moonee Valley (29 September), September is a great time to dress up and get trackside.
“On the track, we’re delighted to be offering record prizemoney and bonuses of over $77 million for this year’s Carnival, with minimum prizemoney increased for non-feature races and three new million dollar races created.
“The races are calling this spring and we look forward to welcoming people to race meetings across the state to enjoy the very best Victoria has to offer.”
Hosted by Hamish McLachlan, the launch featured a varied cast of stellar racing talent including Melbourne Cup winners Prince of Penzance (2015), Efficient (2007) and Might and Power (1997), together with dual Cox Plate winner Fields of Omagh (2003, 2006).
If they were the stars of yesteryear, the current crop of equine heroes is set to make this year’s Carnival one for the ages, with wonder mare Winx bidding to emulate the great Kingston Town by winning her third straight Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on 28 October.
Other horses set to command significant focus over the Carnival include unbeaten Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas (1600m) favourite Royal Symphony; Lloyd Williams’ reigning Melbourne Cup champion Almandin; and the James Cummings-trained star Hartnell, who is favourite for the BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) on 21 October.
Much interest will also centre on the visiting Northern Hemisphere-trained horses with 33 nominated for this year’s Caulfield and Melbourne Cups including horses from Japan, Germany, France, England, Ireland and for the first time, Scotland.
Tomorrow’s opening meeting of the Spring Racing Carnival will commence at 12.25pm with the $1 million Memsie Stakes to be run at 4.10pm. Admission to Caulfield is free for members of AFL Clubs and AFL members.
For further information on the 2017 Spring Racing Carnival, including a schedule of events and ticketing options, visit springracingcarnival.com.au.