Melbourne Cup Carnival remains Australia’s biggest racing event

The Melbourne Cup Carnival has again produced the four-best attended racedays across the nation with world-class racing, fashion, dining and entertainment enjoyed by more than 276,000 people at Flemington Racecourse this week.

Picture: Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images

The jewel in the crown of the 2019 Carnival, the Lexus Melbourne Cup, saw a win for Australia, with Flemington trainer Danny O'Brien combining with champion jockey Craig Williams to clinch the $8 million race with Vow and Declare.

It was a week to remember for jockey Damien Oliver who on the Carnival's opening day won the $2 million Group 1 AAMI Victoria Derby on Warning and earlier broke the record for the most Melbourne Cup Carnival wins surpassing Bobby Lewis' 72 victories.

On Thursday, O'Brien backed up his Lexus Melbourne Cup win and Oliver secured another Group 1 of the Carnival with victory in the $1 million Kennedy Oaks with Miami Bound.

The Melbourne Cup Carnival came to a close with today's Seppelt Wines Stakes Day, with Ireland's Magic Wand taking out the $2 million feature race of the day, the Group 1 Seppelt Mackinnon Stakes.

Magic Wand finished 10th in Tuesday's Lexus Melbourne Cup and today defeated New Zealand star Melody Belle while Australian hero Hartnell finished third.

It was a day of farewells at Flemington with the retirement of Hartnell, one of the nation's most loved racehorses and the grand send-off of veteran jockey Stephen Baster who retired after his final ride in the TAB Matriarch Stakes.

Nature Strip, trained by Chris Waller and ridden by James McDonald, cruised to victory in the $2 million Group 1 Darley Sprint Classic ahead of Loving Gaby and In Her Time.

Throughout the Carnival, 487 horses competed in 37 races, representing an average field size of 13.2 runners. The four race cards, offering more than $27 million in prize money, saw 26 individual trainers and 19 jockeys enjoy victory.

The JB Cummings Excellence Award went to Flemington trainer Chris Waller for his outstanding Melbourne Cup Carnival achievements, and the Ron Hutchinson Excellence Award was won by jockey Craig Williams, with each receiving $50,000.

Victoria Racing Club (VRC) Chief Executive Officer Neil Wilson said it had been a spectacular week of racing.

"The track raced safely and evenly all week and we saw impressive fields throughout. Special acknowledgement must go to Flemington trainers who accounted for 17 of the winners across the Carnival, including five of the eight Group 1 races," Mr Wilson said.

"Despite the cold and wet weather, the four Melbourne Cup Carnival racedays were again the four most attended in the country with 276,186 local, interstate and international visitors flocking to Flemington to enjoy the racing, fashion, entertainment and hospitality of the world's most vibrant racing event.

"We thank all those who attended Cup Week including our members who filled The Club Stand which has completed a successful first year of operation.

"The Park was a top destination for a fourth year, showcasing fashion, food and entertainment, while the new-look Birdcage, grandstands, members carparks, and lawns also teemed with racegoers enjoying Flemington at its best."

Three cruise ships delivered approximately 6,500 visitors to the Cup. Two ships sailed from Sydney and one from Brisbane.

"The Melbourne Cup Carnival is a resounding tourism success story. This is Australia's original major event, and it contributes to the economy like no other," Mr Wilson said.

Coverage of the Lexus Melbourne Cup was streamed to a global audience on Twitter for a fourth straight year, with 60% of viewers from Japan. Network 10's live coverage of the Lexus Melbourne Cup reached 2.9 million nationally, pus 490,000 live streams in its first year. While the Cup was screened at primetime into the USA on America's biggest network, CBS.

The Birdcage enclosure again played host to international and local celebrities including Lady Kitty Spencer and Rachel Griffiths at Lexus; Paul Feig at Kennedy; Lindsay Lohan at Network 10; Usain Bolt at Mumm; Rebecca Harding at Seppelt Wines; Nicole Trunfio, Candice Warner and Lindy Klim at 1 Oliver St; and Jessica Gomes and Gemma Ward at Bumble.

Myer Fashions on the Field was a hit in The Park, where stylishly dressed men and women along with children and families competed for more than $430,000 in prizes.

The Carpinteri family – father Michael and mother Rhianna with children Elena, 8, Leila, 7, and Nate, 14 months – from Thorpdale in Gippsland, Victoria took out the family category in coordinated red, pink and white outfits at Seppelt Wines Stakes Day Myer Fashions on the Field. It was also a family affair in the boys' categories, with Gilbert Hutchins, 6, and brother Henry Hutchins, 13, from Langwarrin South winning the junior and senior competitions respectively. The junior girl title went to Charlotte Suttor, 6, from Keilor East while senior honours went to Charlie Borracci, 17, from Geelong.

On Kennedy Oaks Day, New Zealander Carena West won the Myer Fashions on the Filed National Women's Racewear competition representing Victoria.

Pin & Win – in support of Very Special Kids – offered more than $140,000 in prizes, including a Lexus NX300 AWD F Sport. This year marks the 25th year of Pin & Win, with all proceeds supporting an upgrade of Very Special Kids' children's hospice at Malvern where it cares for children with life-threatening conditions and provides much-needed family support services.

2019 Melbourne Cup Carnival Group 1 winners

Race Prize Money Winner Trainer Jockey
TAB Empire Rose Stakes $1,000,000 Melody Belle Jamie Richards Opie Bosson
Coolmore Stud Stakes $1,500,000 Exceedance Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes Dwayne Dunn
AAMI Victoria Derby $2,010,000 Warning Anthony Freedman Damien Oliver
Kennedy Cantala $2,002,500 Fierce Impact Matthew Smith Craig Williams
Lexus Melbourne Cup $8,000,000 Vow and Declare Danny O'Brien Craig Williams
Kennedy Oaks $1,005,000 Miami Bound Danny O'Brien Damien Oliver
Darley Sprint Classic $2,002,500 Nature Strip Chris Waller James McDonald
Seppelt Mackinnon Stakes $2,005,000 Magic Wand Aidan O'Brien Ryan Moore

2019 Melbourne Cup Carnival attendances

AAMI Victoria Derby Day 80,214
Lexus Melbourne Cup Day 81,408
Kennedy Oaks Day 57,296
Seppelt Wines Stakes Day 57,268
Total 276,186

Racing and Sports