Your Guide to Australia’s Best Racecourses

With all of that wide open space, it makes sense that Australia has a thriving horse racing industry. Not only do they have acres and acres of pastureland to raise happy, healthy thoroughbreds, but they also have space for a whole lot of racecourses, 360 to be exact. Whether you’re an Australian yourself, or you’re planning a vacation Down Under, we’ve got a comprehensive guide to the best racecourses in the country. 

Some of them focus on local racing, providing great value entertainment and a platform for up-and-coming trainers. Others provide world-class racing, with Group level races and prestigious awards to be won. All of the racecourses that we’ve chosen have something that’s completely unique about them, making them stand out from the hundreds of other courses. Whatever sort of racing you’re interested in; this guide will have at least one racetrack that you know you have to visit.

Casino Racecourse, New South Wales

Our first choice is the Casino Racecourse in NSW. This course is a tiny local course that puts on regular race days that are well-attended by locals. You might imagine that there’s a casino of course and that’s the reason for the name, but actually, there’s no casino to be found here. Of course, if you want to combine your day of racing with some slots or poker then hitting up an online casino in Australia might be your best bet. There’s a great vibe at the course and they’re very relaxed so it’s the perfect place to spin the roulette wheel between races. 

There’s actually been racing in this area since 1861, with racing in the exact modern-day location of the course having been in place since 1881, so if you’re after a real slice of history then this is the place to find it. There are multiple festivals every year with the Beef Week festival being one of the largest and falling in June. However, you’ll also find Gold Cup Day and more, with tickets starting at just $10. This place really does offer great value for money and though it may not be Australia’s fanciest racecourse, we challenge you to have a better day out for $10.

Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne

Flemington Racecourse is the home of The Melbourne Cup, the richest two-mile handicap in the world. This race is open to all thoroughbreds aged three years and up and offers a prize of $8,000,000 Australian dollars. It takes place every October/November as part of the Spring Carnival, alongside a slew of other top-class races. This race meeting takes place over the course of a week, so depending on when the last day of October falls it can be spread over the two months. This racing festival regularly attracts more than 120,000 people, which could be a problem for some courses, but not Flemington. This course is massive!

Flemington has the largest capacity of any Australian racecourse, offering tens of thousands of seats across its three grandstands. The first race to happen at Flemington was recorded in 1840, so it’s even older than the Casino Racecourse. One of the aspects of Flemington racecourse that really sets it apart, besides its huge capacity and long history, is the shape of its track. Flemington track is pear-shaped, with a long straight section that helped to make this course famous. The straight lasts for six furlongs and is a test of a horse’s determination and straightness, two things that can be tricky to find in a short distance flat horse.

Caulfield, Melbourne

Melbourne has a rich racing heritage, so it makes sense that two of the most prominent racetracks in Australia are situated here. Caulfield falls to the south of Melbourne, around 16 kilometers from Flemington. It also celebrates the Spring Festival alongside its sister course, so it’s well worth visiting both during this time if you possibly can.

The most prestigious race to be held here each year is the Caulfield Cup. This is another Group 1 race, also open to thoroughbreds aged three years and older, but is not a handicap like the Melbourne Cup. It’s run over a distance of one and a half miles for a purse of $5 million and attracts a truly international crowd. 

What makes this race particularly interesting is that it encounters each of the three-right bends on the Caulfield track. Unusually for a racecourse, Caulfield is in the shape of a triangle. This means that there are three sharp bends for the horses to negotiate, which is a good way of separating the wheat from the chaff. Many trainers bring their young horses to Caulfield to let them experience what a big racecourse feels like, but also to help them learn how to corner properly and not hang to the outside. It’s fascinating to be able to see green horses at the beginning of their career on the same day as some of the greatest thoroughbreds in the world.