A Day at the Races
The great sporting days out include meat pies at the AFL, a couple of cold beers at the NRL, chanting at the A-League or a long day at the cricket, but no other sport has as many venues, or attendees, as the horse races. Ever since Australia’s first race meeting was run in Sydney’s Hyde Park in 1810, the sport of king’s has been intertwined deep within the Australian culture. Through the words of Banjo Patterson, and with legends such as Phar Lap holding pride of place in our history, a day out at the races is truly a national pastime..
Bring me a quart of colonial beer, And some doughy damper to make good cheer, I must make a heavy dinner;
Heavily dine and heavily sup, Of indigestible things fill up, Next month they run the Melbourne Cup, And I have to dream the winner.
"A Dream of the Melbourne Cup" by Banjo Patterson (published in The Bulletin, 1886)
Access to Horse Racing Tracks
Getting to and from the racetrack for a weekend meeting is often much easier than other sporting events. All major racetracks have public transport options and there is usually plenty of free parking for the designated drivers.
In Sydney, Royal Randwick is just a stone’s throw from Sydney city and busses run regularly from Circular Quay and Central Station. Rosehill and Warwick Farm have train stations, and there are lots of transport options for Canterbury.
In Melbourne, Flemington and Caulfield also have the luxury of their own train stations at the door, with both just a short journey from the heart of the city. The best bet for Moonee Valley is the tram. Hop off at Moonee Ponds at you are a two minute walk from the entrance.
During carnival season, things can get a bit busier so an early start is worthwhile.
At The Track
Finding a good spot at the track is the first priority when you arrive. If it’s a social day, then out on the lawn with an umbrella can provide the perfect base, and close proximity to a bar won’t hurt either! With 35 to 40 minutes between races you'll easily fill your day moving between the food venues, bars, mounting yard, betting ring and back to the track. Make sure you get close to the track for at least one race, the thundering sound of hooves as the thoroughbreds power up the straight is an amazing spectacle.
The Race Guide profiles all the horses, including their strengths and weaknesses, so even if you haven't had a win you'll enjoy the ride.
A Graceful Exit
A day at the races can be a lot of fun if you pace yourself. Making it to the finish line in one piece requires a steady approach, so best not to race through the champagne or bet too big on the first favourite! The beers will be cold all day and there are often eight or more races to have a bet on.
Top Ten Tips
A quick list of the top tips for an enjoyable day.
1. Dress for the occasion
2. Pace yourself
3. Get to know your way around the track - including food stalls, the bar, mounting yard and bookies
4. Relax and spend some flicking through the race book, or The Race Guide on your phone
5. Get to the mounting yard before a race to see the thoroughbreds up close
6. Experience the bookies ring, and place a cheeky bet or two
7. Give your horse a huge cheer if they win!
8. Try not to gloat if you are on a winning streak (well maybe a little bit..)
9. Take the time to enjoy the beautiful setting a racetrack provides
10. Remember the stories, a day at the races is full of them!