Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival 2021

The Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival or Melbourne Festival of Racing is one of the calendar year’s early features and takes place from late January until late March or early April annually.

The major race days across the Carnival include CF Orr Stakes Day that is host to the first Group 1 race of the year, Black Caviar Lighting Stakes Day, Blue Diamond Stakes Day with a trio of elite level races and Newmarket Handicap Day also known as Flemington Super Saturday.

The latest addition in terms of big autumn races to the calendar is the $5 million The All-Star Mile (1600m) held across varying races across Melbourne including The Valley in 2021.

Gallopers from right across the country face off in the Melbourne majors that take place across the Festival at all of Victoria’s premier racecourses mainly Flemington, Caulfield and Moonee Valley.

The Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival is broken up into racecourse specific mini-carnivals at each track giving punters plenty of unique betting options over the early months of each year.

Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival Key Races

Blue Diamond Stakes

Neds Blue Diamond Stakes is Melbourne’s key race for 2YOs and is known as a stallion-making feature.

  • Track: Caulfield
  • Distance: 1200m
  • Conditions: 2YO Set Weights
  • Status: Group 1
  • Prize Money: $1.5 million
  • First Prize: $900,000
  • Sponsor: Neds
  • First Run: 1971
  • Reigning Champion: Artorius (2021)

Australian Guineas

The Australian Guineas is a mile race for three-year-olds and good lead-up to Sydney’s ATC Derby.

  • Track: Flemington
  • Distance: 1600m
  • Conditions: 3YOs Set Weights
  • Status: Group 1
  • Prize Money: $1,000,000
  • First Prize: $600,000
  • Sponsor: Kennedy
  • First Run: 1986
  • Reigning Champion: Lunar Fox (2021)

Newmarket Handicap

The Newmarket Handicap is the top sprint race in Melbourne during the autumn held on Super Saturday.

  • Track: Flemington
  • Distance: 1200m
  • Conditions: Handicap
  • Status: Group 1
  • Prize Money: $1.25 million
  • First Prize: $750,000
  • Sponsor: Seppelt Wines
  • First Run: 1874
  • Reigning Champion: Zoutori (2021)

Australian Cup

The Australian Cup is the other Super Saturday race at Flemington in March and a good lead-up to Sydney’s Tancred Stakes.

  • Track: Flemington
  • Distance: 2000m
  • Conditions: Weight-for-age
  • Status: Group 1
  • Prize Money: $1.5 million
  • First Prize: $900,000
  • Sponsor: TAB
  • First Run: 1863
  • Reigning Champion: Homesman (2021)

The All-Star Mile

The recently created The All-Star Mile race is a unique event first held in 2019 and taking place across various Victorian race tracks each March. The event is the only race in Australia where race fans and the public get to vote for the runners they want to compete in the 1600m showdown that offers a lucrative $5 million in stakes.

  • Track: The Valley (2021)
  • Distance: 1600m
  • Conditions: Weight-for-age
  • Status: Follow / Special Conditions
  • Prize Money: $1.5 million
  • First Prize: $2.25 million
  • Sponsor: N/A
  • First Run: 2019
  • Reigning Champion: Mugatoo (2021)

2021 Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival Betting

All-in odds on the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival 2021 Group 1 races are available even before the fields are released. Links to our markets on some of the key futures Group 1 autumn racing carnival odds can be found in the “Key Races” section above.

Many Melbourne Festival of Racing winners will continue onto the Sydney majors in April so look for horses out to do major Group 1 doubles across the Autumn Carnival season including the Australian Guineas – Randwick Guineas for three-year-olds and Australian Cup – Tancred Stakes for weight-for-age stayers.

Betting on the Melbourne Autumn Group 1 Carnival races is very popular and all the usual horse racing odds and bet types are open including Win, Place and Exotics. There are also some exciting Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival betting promotions and offers running each season including Odds Boost & Odds Boost Extra on selected races.

2021 Major Race Days

See below for the full breakdown of the major Group 1 Race Days held throughout the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival 2021.

CF ORR STAKES DAY

Date: Saturday February 6, 2021

Racecourse: Caulfield

Feature Races:

  • Group 1 $500,00 C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m)
  • Group 2 $200,000 Autumn Stakes (1400m)
  • Group 2 $200,000 Rubiton Stakes (1400m)
  • Group 2 $200,000 Blue Diamond Prelude (Fillies) (1100m)
  • Group 3 $200,000 Blue Diamond Prelude (Colts & Geldings) (1100m)
  • Group 3 $160,000 TS Carlyon Cup (1600m)
  • Group 3 $150,00 Geoffrey Belmaine Stakes (1200m)
  • Group 3 $150,000 Kevin Hayes Stakes (1200m)

Host to the year’s first elite level feature race CF Orr Stakes Day is conducted in mid-February at Caulfield Racecourse and is headlined by the weight-for-age Group 1 $500,000 CF Orr Stakes (1400m). The Caulfield card also features a trio of Group 2 support races including the three-year-olds facing off in the Group 2 Autumn Stakes (1400m) and the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) for the sprinters.

Of the other black-type races the other holding Group 2 status is the Blue Diamond Fillies Prelude for youngsters heading towards the Blue Diamond Stakes later in the carnival. The Colts & Geldings’ edition of the same Prelude also runs on CF Orr Stakes Day but only holds Group 3 status.

BLACK CAVIAR LIGHTNING STAKES DAY

Date: Saturday February 13, 2021

Racecourse: Flemington

Feature Races:

  • Group 1 $750,000 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m)
  • Group 3 $160,000 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m)
  • Group 3 $150,000 The Vanity (1400m)

The first Group 1 Autumn Racing Carnival Melbourne race card runs at Flemington a week after CF Orr Stakes Day with the Group 1 $750,000 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m) heading the card. The race is named in honour of triple winner Black Caviar who won in 2011-13 and is supported by two Group 3 features for three-year-olds.

The colts and geldings do battle in the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) as they head towards a possible run in the Australian Guineas the following month while the fillies face off in the Group 3 The Vanity (1400m).

BLUE DIAMOND STAKES DAY

Date: Saturday February 20, 2021

Racecourse: Caulfield

Feature Races:

Punters are treated to a triple shot of Group 1 racing for Blue Diamond Stakes Day at Caulfield Racecourse in late February.

Racing is highlighted by the season’s top two-year-olds contesting the stallion-making Group 1 $1.5 million Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m), which is supported by the weight-for-age Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) and the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) for the sprinters. Three Group 2 races are also part of the line-up including the Australian Cup hopes in the Group 2 Autumn Classic (1800m) for three-year-olds.

Weight-for-age runners that appreciate a bit of distance head towards later majors in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) while the fillies take each other on in the Group 2 Angus Armanasco Stakes (1400m).

AUSTRALIAN GUINEAS DAY

Date: Saturday February 27, 2021

Racecourse: Flemington

Feature Races:

  • Group 1 $1 million Australian Guineas (1600m)
  • Group 2 $200,000 Blamey Stakes (1600m)
  • Group 3 $160,000 Frances Tressady Stakes (1400m)
  • Group 3 $160,000 Shaftsbury Avenue (1400m)

In early March the action moves back from Caulfield to Flemington for Australian Guineas Day where the marquee race is the Group 1 $1 million Australian Guineas (1600m) for the three-year-old milers, the prize money for which was increased to a million dollars for the first time in 2018.

The Group 2 Blamey Stakes, also held over the mile and previously contested on its own feature race day, now runs as the key support act on the Guineas Day card and provides a nice interstate lead-up for milers that could be heading to Sydney for a shot at the Doncaster Mile at Royal Randwick that April.

Two Group 3 races also offer top autumn carnival betting opportunities with the fillies and mares running in the Group 3 Frances Tressady Stakes (1400m) and the middle-distance gallopers getting a black-type chance in the  Shaftesbury Avenue Stakes (1400m).

FLEMINGTON SUPER SATURDAY

Date: Saturday March 6, 2021

Racecourse: Flemington

Feature Races:

  • Group 1 $1,250,000 Newmarket Handicap (1200m)
  • Group 1 $1,500,000 Australian Cup (2000m)
  • Group 2 $200,000 Kewney Stakes (1400m)
  • Group 2 $200,000 VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m)
  • Group 3 $160,000 Matron Stakes (1600m)
  • Group 3 $160,000 Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes (1200m)

Super Saturday at Flemington, or Newmarket Handicap Day, runs in mid-March each Autumn Carnival and is headlined by two Group 1 features both offering over a million dollars in prize money. The sprinters face off in the Group 1 $1.25 million Newmarket Handicap (1200m) while the Group 1 $1.5 million Australian Cup (2000m) is run under weight-for-age conditions over more distance and is the richest race on the card.

Four other Group status support races also add interest to the line-up including the Group 2 Kewney Stakes (1400m) for fillies and the juveniles running in the Group 2 VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m).

THE ALL-STAR MILE DAY

The newest feature meeting of the Melbourne Festival of Racing, The All-Star Mile was first run and won at Flemington in 2019. For the second edition in 2020 the $5 million event was held at Caulfield and for 2021 it lights up The Valley in mid-March. With Moonee Valley selected as the 2021 The All-Star Mile venue, the Group 2 Alister Clark Stakes has been moved to support the event and will run on the Saturday card instead of on a Friday night.

Date: Saturday March 13, 2021

Racecourse: Moonee Valley

Feature Races:

WILLIAM REID STAKES NIGHT

Date: Friday March 19, 2021

Racecourse: Moonee Valley

Feature Races:

  • Group 1 $500,000 William Reid Stakes (1200m)
  • Group 2 $200,000 Sunline Stakes (1600m)
  • Group 3 $160,000 Alexandra Stakes (1600m)

The last of the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival meetings to take place at Moonee Valley Racecourse is William Reid Stakes Night that takes place under the lights on a Friday evening in late March.

Following on from the Black Caviar Lighting Stakes at Flemington the elite level sprinters get a chance at a Group 1 win in the $500,000 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at the notoriously tight circuit. The other feature race at the Valley on the night is the weight-for-age $200,000 Group 2 Sunline Stakes (1600m) for the fillies and mares, while the Group 3 Alexandra Stakes (1600m) is also run over the mile by three-year-old fillies.