Racegoers flock to Flemington
Racegoers flock to Flemington for the glorious return of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
The Melbourne Cup Carnival kicked off in style today as more than 71,000 racegoers converged on Flemington Racecourse for Penfolds Victoria Derby Day, the opening day of Australia’s premier racing festival, which is the largest crowd on any racecourse in Australia since the 2019 Lexus Melbourne Cup.
Cheers echoed across the track as the Chris Waller-trained Manzoice won the $2 million Group 1 Penfolds Victoria Derby (2500m), Australia’s oldest classic race with a history dating back to 1855. Ridden by Michael Dee, Manzoice defeated favourite Sharp ‘n’ Smart by a half-length to join an honour roll that includes champions like Phar Lap and Tulloch.
It was one of many highlights from a spectacular day of racing that saw the Brad Widdup-prepared Icebath take out the Group 1 TAB Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) for fillies and mares, while the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) saw the fillies to the fore as Godolphin’s In Secret raced clear for an emphatic victory under jockey James McDonald.
The Group 3 Lexus Archer Stakes (2500m) went to the Chris Waller-trained Surefire in the colours of international juggernaut Juddmonte Farms. While Surefire is not entered for Tuesday’s Lexus Melbourne Cup, runner-up Serpentine is set to contest the ‘race that stops a nation’™ following an impressive staying effort in the Archer.
McDonald’s love affair with Flemington continued as he rode four winners, equalling his haul on Penfolds Victoria Derby Day last year. In addition to In Secret and Surefire, he took out the Group 2 Racing and Sports Wakeful Stakes (2000m) on Zennzella and the Group 2 TAB Linlithgow Stakes (1400m) aboard Old Flame.
After Penfolds Victoria Derby Day, McDonald leads the Ron Hutchinson Award for jockeys during the Melbourne Cup Carnival with 14 points, while Chris Waller leads the JB Cummings Award for trainers on seven points. Both McDonald and Waller won these respective awards last year.
Victoria Racing Club Chief Executive Officer Steve Rosich said the club was thrilled to have racegoers back in such large numbers at Flemington.
“There was an electric atmosphere on course and I’m sure everyone who was trackside today will agree that it was as good a Penfolds Victoria Derby Day as we have experienced,” Mr Rosich said.
“It meant so much to us at the VRC to welcome back racegoers in big numbers, including our valued members, for our first Melbourne Cup Carnival in three years since restrictions.
“From Manzoice’s win in the 169th Penfolds Victoria Derby to In Secret’s win in the Coolmore Stud Stakes, the racing was top class all day and it only builds from here into the ‘race that stops the nation’ on Lexus Melbourne Cup Day on Tuesday.
“Tuesday’s $8 million Lexus Melbourne Cup will see 24 of the best stayers from Australia and abroad tackle the Flemington 3200m, including English visitors Deauville Legend and Without A Fight, Flemington Group 1 winners Duais and Smokin’ Romans and a previous Cup winner in Vow And Declare.
“The world-famous two mile handicap promises to be a glorious race and the excitement is already building ahead of the second day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.”
Many famous faces joined the tens of thousands across Flemington’s grandstands, marquees, lawns and car parks, with the world famous Birdcage Enclosure home to a host of celebrities including actress Elsa Pataky and director Taika Waititi at Lexus, AFL legend Joel Selwood and model Bambi Northwood-Blyth at Penfolds, actor Hugh Sheridan at Paramount, supermodel Duckie Thot at G.H Mumm and Melbourne Cup Carnival Ambassadors and models Nicole Trunfio, Ashley Hart and Jessica Hart at Villa Paradiso. The Birdcage Enclosure also played host to many VRC members and guests, who could enjoy the day in The Bird Bath Bar, located in the centre of the enclosure with delectable food and drink offerings.
In the 60th edition of Myer Fashions on the Field the inaugural, gender-neutral Best Dressed and Best Suited categories were a fashion highlight on track. In hotly contested finals, the Top Three for both categories were selected with the Best Dressed winners Emma Scodellaro, Holly Webb and Kelli McPhie along with the Best Suited winners Sharon Smith, Jacqueline Kibbis and Emily Outlaw all heading straight into the grand final on Kennedy Oaks Day. The creative and design-led Emerging Designer Award was judged by an elite panel including global milliner Stephen Jones OBE and fashion designer Michael Lo Sordo. The winner was Melbourne based creative Baaqiy Ghazali. The winning look was part of Baaqiy’s graduate collection for the Whitehouse Institute of Design where they designed a creation that represented the exaggeration of human anatomy shrouded in black organza.
General admission racegoers enjoyed a stellar lineup of food, drinks, fashion and entertainment in The Park, with Melbourne-based house and electronic DJ and producer Sgt Slick, collaborative dance duo KLP & Stace Cadet and Yolngu superstar and 2019 Young Australian of the Year Baker Boy taking to the Live Stage.
The final field for the Lexus Melbourne Cup has been set for the race that stops a nation with Gold Trip carrying the top weight of 57.5kg.
This year the Melbourne Cup Carnival is partnering with GIVIT to support the many flood-impacted people and communities around Australia. Throughout Cup Week, racing fans can donate via the dedicated GIVIT website.
Ahead of the second day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, Lexus Melbourne Cup Day on Tuesday 2 November, the 64th Annual Racing Mass will be held tomorrow morning at St Francis Church, on the corner of Elizabeth and Lonsdale Streets in Melbourne’s central business district.
Commencing at 9:30am, the Racing Mass is attended by people of all denominations representing many sections of the racing industry. It is offered for the wellbeing of the sport as a whole.
And the Lexus Melbourne Cup Day celebrations will take over the Melbourne CBD on Monday from 12pm as leading jockeys and trainers with runners in the Cup assemble at Federation Square to give the final word on their chances in the great race.
Tickets for Lexus Melbourne Cup Day, Kennedy Oaks Day and TAB Champions Stakes Day are still available for members and the general public via Ticketmaster.