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Australia has over 360 registered racetracks spanning the entire country, but the best tracks reside in Melbourne and Sydney, which in turn host the biggest races of the calendar.
There is plenty of debate as to whether Melbourne has better racetracks than Sydney, but they both offer different positives and negatives which we will run through.
It’s good for punters to know the tendencies of racetracks are they are one key factor into predicting the result. We start with the most famous track in Australia, which is home to the Melbourne Cup.
Flemington is one of the biggest racetracks in Australia and it is home to the biggest race on the calendar – the Melbourne Cup. Located in Melbourne, Flemington hosts the spring carnival every October/November, which features races such as the Melbourne Cup, VRC Oaks, VRC Derby and many other Group 1 races.
The four-day carnival spans a week (Saturday to Saturday) and both Cup day and Derby day attract crowds in excess of 100,000. The Melbourne spring carnival is easily the biggest carnival held in Australia and Flemington is the ideal track for it. The large track and surrounding grounds allows room for both horses and the public. The horses are often given every chance to win because the track is so big, and it usually plays fairly to all runners.
It’s the only track in Australia that offers straight racing. The 1200m straight offers punters a great sight and straight racing has become increasingly popular due to the star profile of Australia’s sprinting crop. There is no set track bias at Flemington and it suits front and back runners. The lengthy straight allows the back markers time to make their runs, but the long turn also allows front runners to get some space on the field.
During the winter months the track can get choppy and the outside rail is used more often than not, but during the autumn and spring carnivals, Flemington is the best track in Australia.
Randwick is the home of racing in Sydney and it has become a major force after some important track and facilities renovations. Located in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, Randwick is leased by the Australian Turf Club (ATC) and since the renovations have taken place, it looks a much more viable racing surface.
For the last few years Randwick has hosted The Championships. Australia’s biggest two-day carnival which is spread over two consecutive Saturdays. Featured during the carnival is the Doncaster Handicap, Queen Elizabeth Stakes, T.J. Smith Stakes, Australian Derby and the Australian Oaks – among many other Group 1 races. It is also home to the Country and Provincial Championships which gives the lesser-known horses and trainers their chance to shine on the big stage.
Randwick races right-handed, like all tracks in Sydney, and if often suits horses sitting on the speed. The best place to be positioned is fourth on the outside as horses run best when their momentum is at full swing heading into the straight. Jockeys such as James McDonald, Hugh Bowman and more recently James Doyle have exploited this aspect of Randwick and punters are starting to take note. It’s an exciting track which offers a good spectacle, so tune in every April for The Championships which is where the track shines brightest.
Moonee Valley is one of the more exciting tracks in Australia and it’s only one of a few tracks to offer both day and night meetings. The Valley is a tight-turning track which can be difficult for punters to accurately predict winners. Due to the short straight, horses must begin their runs very early which can add to traffic problems. The best place to be is just off the speed because the horses in front are tiring and the ones in behind have to pull out wide.
The biggest race held at Moonee Valley is the Group 1 Cox Plate. Considered one of the world’s best races, the Cox Plate has been won by some of Australasia’s best thoroughbreds which includes Northerly, Winx and Sunline. Moonee Valley hosts a night meeting prior to the Cox Plate which features the Group 1 William Reid Stakes and provide a great entree to the main course on Saturday. If you want to bet on an exciting racetrack where the favourites have a good record, place a bet at Moonee Valley.
Caulfield is a highly-regarded track in Melbourne which hosts the Group 1 Caulfield Cup during the spring. Caulfield is heavily-used throughout the year, mostly on Saturday’s and it also features the Blue Diamond series for juveniles.
Many trainers use Caulfield as a starting point for their young horses as racing is generally done in close quarters. The tight final turn teaches horses how to race with pressure and the leaders like to stack the field up approaching the home turn. It’s not the best track for punters as horses can often get stuck in behind. This causes many punters to have bad luck stories, but it still houses some of the best racing in Australia and is considered one of the best racetracks in the country.
Rosehill is the other main track in Sydney which is home to the world’s richest two-year-old race. The Group 1 Golden Slipper is the biggest juvenile race in the world and Rosehill provides a great atmosphere for the occasion. It has been used for years without fail to some of Australia’s biggest racing events and due to the quality of the track, it can be used every week when conditions suit.
Punters consider Rosehill one of their favourite tracks and we would have to agree. It plays fair to runners of all abilities and it doesn’t matter if your runner is in front or behind, it will get its chance in the straight. Races such as the Golden Slipper and the Golden Rose help lift the profile of Rosehill and we have the highest confidence that this track gives punters a fair go.
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