A Brief Guide to Horse Racing in Australia

Warwick Farm Racecourse

 Andy/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

Every day of the week, somewhere in Australia, there's horse racing on metropolitan, provincial or country racetracks. In Sydney the metropolitan race meetings would be held in one of four Sydney racecourses: Rosehill Gardens, Royal Randwick, Canterbury Park and Warwick Farm. So designated provincial races relatively close to Sydney would be in such venues as Hawkesbury, Kembla Range, Gosford, Newcastle and Wyong out of almost 50 provincial tracks within New South Wales.

Farther afield are some 116 country race tracks including those in Cessnock in the Hunter Valley, Port Macquarie on the NSW North Coast, Bathurst and Mudgee in the west, and Moruya and Nowra in the south. Sydney's metropolitan racecourses are operated by the Australian Turf Club comprising the merged Australian Jockey Club and Sydney Turf Club.

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Royal Randwick

Racing at Royal Randwick Racecourse, copyright AJC

Royal Randwick Racecourse

Royal Randwick Racecourse is not only the Sydney racecourse with the longest history but it is also the closest to the Sydney city center, being only 5.5 kilometers from Martin Place on its shortest route through Anzac Parade. Depending on traffic conditions it should take no more than 15 minutes by car. A quicker but slightly longer route from Martin Place could be through Metroad 1.

The first race on the site that was to become Royal Randwick took place in June 1833 between two horses. Regular racing was held on the site until 1838, by which time the track had deteriorated to a point where it was only usable as a training track.

In 1860 racing returned to Randwick and the first AJC Derby, named after the Australian Jockey Club, was run on the Randwick racecourse in 1861. The AJC Derby has since become the Australia Derby run over 2400 meters in the Australian autumn.

The Randwick racecourse proper has a 2224-meter circumference with a 410-meter straight to the finish line.

Major races held at Royal Randwick include the 1600m Doncaster Handicap, 2400m AJC Australian Derby, 2400m AJC Australian Oaks, and the 3200m Sydney Cup all generally run in April in the autumn, and the 1600m George Main Stakes, 1600 Epsom Handicap, 2400m Metropolitan, 1600m Flight Stakes and 2000m Spring Championship Stakes, all run in September and October in the spring.:

Royal Randwick Racecourse is accessible primarily through Alison Rd with regular Sydney buses passing through Alison St. Buses during carnival racing days are available from Central Station direct to the racecourse. Limited public car parking is available via High St adjacent to the University of New South Wales.

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Rosehill Gardens

Racing at Rosehill Gardens, courtesy Easter in Sydney

Rosehill Gardens

Constructed in 1885, Rosehill Gardens Racecourse is close to the western Sydney suburb of Parramatta, and is some 23 ‚Äčkilometers from Sydney's Martin Place through Parramatta Rd and the M4 Freeway. An alternative road route is through Victoria Rd. Both Parramatta and Victoria Rds can get quite congested with traffic, resulting in longer travel times.

The public transport alternative is to take the train on the Carlingford line which stops at Rosehill Gardens which is a short walk across the railway track to the racecourse.

If driving to the racecourse, there are parking areas along James Ruse Drive, and from Grand Avenue through Gate 1. An infield carpark is accessible through Gate 2 on Unwin St and through an underground tunnel.

You could also take the Rivercat ferry from Circular Quay to Parramatta where a free bus service takes you to the racecourse.

The Rosehill Gardens racetrack proper has a 2048m circumference featuring a 408m straight.

The Rosehill Gardens autumn racing carnival takes place over three consecutive Saturdays, with the 1200m Golden Slipper Stakes for two-year-olds as the event of the season.

Other major autumn races at Rosehill include the 1500 Coolmore Study, 2000m Ranvet Stakes, 1400 Apollo Stakes, 1500m Ajax Stakes, and the 1500m Queen of the Turf Stakes.

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Canterbury Park

Canterbury Racecourse in Sydney

J Bar/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

Canterbury Park is in Sydney's middle western suburbs, just over 10 kilometers from Sydney's Central Station. Mainly a venue for midweek racing, it holds the occasional weekend race meeting when Royal Randwick or Rosehill Gardens need a break, especially when Sydney is hit by heavy rain.

The Canterbury Park racetrack has a circumference of 1580 meters with a 317m straight.

Among the more prominent Canterbury races are the 1100m Canterbury Classic in January, the 1200m P J Bell Stakes in April, and the 1900m Frank Underwood Cup in November.

Parking is available for those wishing to drive. For those taking the train, the racecourse is about a five-minute walk from Canterbury station on Canterbury Rd. A free shuttle bus ferries racegoers from Strathfield train station.

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Warwick Farm

Warwick Farm Racecourse in Sydney

Andy/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

Located in Sydney's southwestern suburbs, Warwick Farm Racecourse is adjacent to the city of Liverpool along the Hume Highway. It is some 30 kilometers from Sydney's Central Station.

Warwick Farm-trained racehorse Grand Flaneur won the Melbourne Cup in 1880, some four years before stables and tracks were built on what is now the Warwick Farm racecourse site. Grand Flaneur won nine successive races in 1880 and 1881 before being retired undefeated.

The Warwick Farm racetrack has a circumference of 1937 meters with a 326m straight.

Very much a family racetrack, Warwick Farm is noted for its picnic atmosphere. As at Canterbury Park, Warwick Farm is mainly a midweek venue with occasional weekend races.

Among the major Warwick Farm races are the 1000m AJC Challenge Stakes, 1400m Surround Stakes and 1300m Liverpool Cup in March, and 1400m Warwick Stakes, 1200m Silver Shadow Stakes and 1200m Up and Comig Stakes in August.

The racecourse is within close walking distance of Warwick Farm railway station, with a free shuttle bus service available on race days.

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