Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival 2018

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

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

Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes

The Ladbrokes 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: Ladbrokes
  • First Run: 1971
  • Reigning Champion: Written By (2018)

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: N/A
  • First Run: 1986
  • Reigning Champion: Grunt (2018)

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: Lexus
  • First Run: 1874
  • Reigning Champion: Redkirk Warrior (2018)

Australian Cup

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

  • 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: Harlem (2018)

2018 Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival Betting

All-in odds on the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival 2018 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 – The BMW 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.

2018 Major Race Days

See below for the full breakdown of the major Group 1 Race Days held throughout the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival 2018.

LADBROKES CF ORR STAKES DAY

CF Orr Stakes - Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival Group 1 odds Ladbrokes

The Ladbrokes CF Orr Stakes is the first Group 1 race of the year and Black Heart Bart (2017) was the last favourite to salute for the punters. Photo: Ultimate Racing Photos.

Date: Saturday February 10, 2018

Racecourse: Caulfield

Feature Races:

  • Group 1 $500,00 Ladbrokes 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 $150,000 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 Ladbrokes 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 17, 2018

Racecourse: Flemington

Feature Races:

  • Group 1 $750,000 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m)
  • Group 3 $150,000 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).

LADBROKES BLUE DIAMOND STAKES DAY

Date: Saturday February 24, 2018

Racecourse: Caulfield

Feature Races:

Punters are treated to a triple shot of Group 1 racing for Ladbrokes 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 Ladbrokes 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 March 3, 2017

Racecourse: Flemington

Feature Races:

  • $1 million Group 1 $1 million Australian Guineas (1600m)
  • $150,000 Frances Tressady Stakes (1400m)
  • $150,000 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.

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 $120,000 Group 3 Shaftesbury Avenue Stakes (1400m).

FLEMINGTON SUPER SATURDAY

Date: Saturday March 10, 2018

Racecourse: Flemington

Feature Races:

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.

A trio of 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).

BLAMEY STAKES DAY

Date: Saturday March 17, 2018

Racecourse: Flemington

Feature Races:

  • Group 2 $200,000 Blamey Stakes (1600m)
  • Group 3 $150,000 Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes (1200m)

The Blamey Stakes now features on its own Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival meeting having previously been held a week earlier on ‘Super Saturday’. Still contested at Flemington the Group 2 event 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.

WILLIAM REID STAKES NIGHT

Date: Friday March 23, 2018

Racecourse: Moonee Valley

Feature Races:

  • Group 1 $500,000 William Reid Stakes (1200m)
  • Group 2 $200,000 Sunline Stakes (1600m)
  • Group 3 $150,000 Alexandra Stakes (1600m)

The first and 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.