This weekend Victoria’s Spring Carnival action shifts to Moonee Valley, with a dazzling double bill of night and day racing.
On Friday night, the William Hill Manikato Stakes, a line-up featuring the country’s richest night race, will light up the valley between 5 and 10pm. On the track, all eyes will be on champion sprinter Chautauqua, who will be defending his title in the feature race, the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m). With his gorgeous grey colouring and charisma to spare, this lightning-fast gelding looks the part of the world’s current best sprinter, as many punters consider him to be.
There’s a special thrill about night races, and the atmosphere under the lights is always electric.
And that’s just the start of the weekend’s big party at Moonee Valley. On Saturday, the racecourse hosts one of the biggest days on the Spring Carnival calendar: William Hill Cox Plate Day. Regarded as Australia’s premier weight-for-age race, the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2400) will this year be a clash of the titans, with superstar mare Winx coming up against Hartnell in her bid to be the first mare since the legendary Sunline to go back-to-back in this huge race for the country’s best stayers.
The entertainment matches the status of the day, with Daryl Braithwaite headlining a packed entertainment programme also featuring Michaela Baranov and Mish Fornito and band.
Here at @thevalleyracecourse for the @willhillaus Cox Plate Ladies Lunch 🌺 excited for a girly day out! Many thanks to Alex from @herwardrobeaus for my amazing @thurleyofficial dress, @nataliebikicki millinery & @olgabergclutches and @mariagullace for hair & makeup! #LoveTheValley #CoxPlateCarnival #Legendary #SpringRacing #whatshersismines
Cox Plate Carnival ambassador Whitney Berry, partner of jockey Blake Shinn, is eagerly anticipating the day; the Cox Plate holds a special place in her heart as her brother Chad was on board Shamus Award when he won the race in 2013, and Whitney’s Dad, Glyn Schofield, rode Hay List to victory in the Manikato Stakes in 2010.
Whitney will be among a glittering crowd of Melbourne’s race lovers filling the Moonee Valley’s natural amphitheatre for these two great occasions.
On the same day in WA, Perth’s Ascot is once again the scene of action-packed racing and full-blooded celebration as Irish Race Day continues the Perth 2016 Spring Racing Carnival. As the name suggests, there’s an Irish theme to this day of top-notch racing headlined by the listed $100,000 Belgravia Stakes (1200m); expect Irish dancers and live music, Guinness and a Mumm Champagne Bar, plus a bouncy castle, fairy floss and face painters for the kids.
Race lovers in Sydney won’t miss out, with a big day planned at Royal Randwick at the Cox Plate Day meet. Along with live racing on the track, the southern hemisphere’s largest outdoor super-screen will be showing all the action from Moonee Valley live. The party’s certain to kick on after the races as dance gurus Potbelleez end the day with their signature banging tunes – this will be their first ever performance at Royal Randwick. All day long, food, fun and fashion will be on display in favourite trackside hotspots including The Bucket List Beach Club Marquee and The Mews by Delicious.
Above: The Mews by Delicious. Image credit Getty.