Caulfield Guineas Day at Caulfield Racecourse on October 14, 2017 in Caulfield, Australia. (Reg Ryan/Racing Photos)
Well those super big days are literally just around the corner, and in case you’re heading to Caulfield, Moonee Valley or Flemington over the next few weeks, I want to let you in on a few secrets. Not how to magically pick the long- priced winner of the sixth (I wish I had such a super power), but where to take in all the action on the track because vantage point is key!
Believe it or not, my father Lee, very rarely watches racing ‘IRL’. While he might be on track, saddling up starters and hopefully cheering home winners, he usually does it in front of a TV near the jockeys’ room, in the owners’ bar or in one of the members’ areas close to the mounting yard. I think it has something to do with his eyesight, but also the fact he likes to fully concentrate on what is going on race wise. It’s not a bad theory. I too like focussing in on the action, but there is something quite awe inspiring about watching the start, or the end, of a big race from the right spot on track. Hearing the gates crash open at the start, the thunder of hooves and the screams of the excited crowd are part of a wider sensory experience of getting to one of the major carnival days.
So here’s the lowdown!
If going to the Caulfield Cup – being as far down the left side of the straight as you can get, as the start is seriously incredible. The build up to this 2400m classic is something else. You can get incredibly close to the action of the start. When the barriers click open and the mayhem of this staying test begins, you will be thankful you were there to take it all in!!!
Winx ridden by Hugh Bowman wins William Hill Cox Plate at Moonee Valley Racecourse on October 22, 2016 in Moonee Ponds, Australia. (Sarah Ebbett/Racing Photos)
The Valley is a tight track, while the wider course acts as an amphitheater. To watch the Weight for Age Championship of Australasia, I would either get down on the fence, again to the left, to see the tidal wave of thoroughbreds pour around the bend. In this event, they can be eight wide – it’s incredible! I was right amongst it when Makybe Diva won her Cox Plate in 2005. It was one of the highlights of my race going life! To take in a broader view, get up high to look at the whole track. It’s a unique racecourse and the view from up high at The Valley is really special.
As for the big days at Flemington, I prefer to be close to the finish, right near the mounting yard. You can take in the parade and then watch them all get out onto the track, and take in the end of these classic events. Plus, you have the added benefit of the freshly in bloom roses right in front of you!
Every track is unique and each has a different atmosphere. Take full advantage of the incredible racing right in front of your eyes and soak it all up. Here in Australia, we seriously do big carnival days better than anywhere else in the world!