Australian horse racing’s growing popularity with punters worldwide

There is a common conception that horse racing is a peculiarly English pursuit. Given the sideshows that take place around the Grand National, Royal Ascot and the Cheltenham Festival, with the traditional finery and the royal pomp, that is perhaps unsurprising. However, the rise of internet streaming, online bookmakers and global TV coverage has been an eye opener to an equally buoyant horse racing culture in some far flung lands.

 

Australia is a case in point. Most people’s knowledge of antipodean racing begins and ends with Phar Lap, but over recent years that has started to change.

 

Horse racing in Australia

 

Australia has 360 registered racecourses, more than any other nation on the globe, and they welcome some two million racegoers every year. The country is behind only the USA and Japan in terms of total prize money on offer. Australians bet more than AU$15 billion (£8.5 billion) on racing every year, and a growing band of international punters are signing up to join them. BettingPro.au is a specialist site offering free Australian horse racing tips to all comers, and is the perfect place to start. Here are their recommendations for the top Australian race meetings over the coming months.  

 

The Melbourne Cup Carnival

 

Think of the Cheltenham Festival but without the rain, and you have a good picture of the Melbourne Cup. It has all the swankiness, fashion and excess of any top UK race meeting, and is rapidly garnering an international following. The week-long festival takes place every November, and last year, thousands flocked to the historic Flemington Racecourse to be part of the spectacle. They were treated to a classic race in the showpiece event, when Rekindling shot to victory. The four year old gelding is already the bookmakers’ favourite to win again in 2018.

 

Another race held during the spring carnival in Melbourne is the Victoria Derby. Carrying a prize pot of AU$1.5 million, this takes place on the opening day of the festival, and last year, a tightly contested race was won by bookmakers’ warm favourite Aces High.

 

The Caulfield Cup

 

If the Melbourne Carnival can be likened to the Cheltenham Festival, the Caulfield Cup is Australia’s answer to the Grand National, albeit on the flat. With a purse of AU$3 million, it is the richest race run over 1.5 miles in the world. It takes place at Flemington in October, and

last year, rank outsider Boom Time caused one of the biggest upsets in Australian racing history by winning from nowhere.

 

The Golden Slipper Stakes

 

Not every major race meeting takes place in Melbourne. The Golden Slipper Stakes is the richest race in the world for two year old thoroughbreds, and is held every April at Sydney’s Rosehill Gardens racecourse. The first ever Golden Slipper was won in 1957 by legendary Australian racehorse Todman – the horse went on to sire the next four consecutive winners and his bloodline can still be found in many of today’s top winners.

 

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