Most Australians have a love and fascination for horse racing whether it’s the regular punter or the once a year Melbourne Cup ‘dabbler’.
Across this vast land, there are around 400 racecourses ranging from showpiece tracks like Flemington, which is host to some of the most prestigious Group 1 races in Australia, to the once a year circuits like Gunbower, where colourful race caller Jack Styring ruled the airwaves for 60 years.
The hundreds of courses are classified as metropolitan, provincial or country racetracks and in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and Western Australia they run in anti-clockwise direction, while in QLD, NSW and ACT it’s clockwise.
Flemington Racecourse is the best-known venue in Australia. It is the oldest continuing metropolitan track and there have been races held at the Melbourne circuit located next to the Maribyrnong River every year since March 1840. In 2006, the Melbourne Cup venue was placed on the National Heritage List.
Over the years, racecourses have been community hubs for social gatherings (especially in small country towns), hosted concerts and even papal visits (Randwick), used as army barracks, but most of all, home to the sport of kings and fashions on the field.
Track surfaces used in Australia include; grass, dirt, sand, synthetic and StrathAyr.
Flemington is the major horse racing venue in Melbourne. It is located next to the Maribyrnong River, just 8km from the city centre, near Footscray Park. The track itself is shaped a bit like a pear, with a circumference of 2312m and a straight of 450m.
Located just 8km from the Melbourne CBD, Caulfield Racecourse is one of Australia’s best-known horse racing tracks with a history dating back to 1859.
Located 6km from the Melbourne CBD, Moonee Valley Racecourse was established in 1883 after William Samuel Cox purchased a farm owned by John F Feehan to house the rack.
Queensland’s premier racecourse has been offline since August 2014 when racing ceased allowing the Brisbane Racing Club to undertake a full refurbishment of both the racing surface and the on-course facilities.
Doomben racecourse is located 7km from the Brisbane CBD and is located directly across the road from Brisbane’s other metropolitan racetrack Eagle Farm. Both tracks are operated by the Brisbane Racing Club (BRC) which was formed in 2009 with the merger of the Brisbane Turf Club (BTC) and the Queensland Turf Club (QTC).