Australia is undoubtedly one of the world’s great horse racing nations. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find any place on earth with such a high concentration of quality races on the calendar. Most of the action takes place in the spring and autumn months, with various carnivals offering racing fans the chance to watch high-quality action day after day.
While racing takes place all over the country, the two epicenters are Victoria and New South Wales, specifically in the metropolitan areas of Melbourne and Sydney. It means that Racing NSW and Racing Victoria oversee some of the best races on earth.
But which races are they? And which are the best to bet on?
The obvious answer to most will be the Melbourne Cup. But that assumption overlooks the plethora of fantastic races that take place in the country, some of which are arguably better suited to savvy punters’ strategies. Moreover, we have official confirmation that the Melbourne Cup is not “the best”, as it only rank 67th overall on HKJC’s official world rankings of the top 100 Group 1 races in the world. Around ten Australian races rank higher.
Cox Plate is loved by purists
While the omission of the Melbourne Cup might be surprising, it’s not altogether a shock for experienced punters. It’s the biggest race, yes, but that does not always mean the best. Indeed, the highest-ranked race on the HKJC’s list is probably the one most revered by racing purists – the WS Cox Plate.
A Weight for Age race, the Cox Plate is considered a ‘fairer’ test than the big handicaps like the Melbourne Cup or Caulfield Cup. In the last 10 runnings, the favorite has won the Cox Plate six times – a 60% strike rate – and never finished outside of the top three in that time. That’s clearly a reason for bettors to consider this a race they love.
Next up, we are moving to a race away from the HKJC’s list to one without Group status – The Everest. Held at Royal Randwick since its inauguration in 2017, there are many parallels with The Everest and Pegasus World Cup (Gulfstream, FL). Both started in 2017, and both used money as a means to attract the best runners and riders on the planet. Today, The Everest is the world’s richest turf race, but it’s hugely popular with casual punters too.
The Everest has caught the imagination of the public
A sprint race run over 1200m, it’s also for Weight for Age. While that’s not a precondition for being one of the best races to bet on, there is once again a sense that it’s a fairer race, rewarding the best runners. The fact it has become the centerpiece of the Sydney Spring Carnival helps too. In fact, it’s remarkable the profile they have built up for The Everest in such a short space of time.
The All-Star Mile is one of the most popular races with the Australian public, and for good reason: the runners are voted in by public vote. The Aussies nicked the idea from the Japanese, who vote on the runners for the Arima Kinen race.
The prize money is big – $5 million AUD – so it’s easy to see the allure for trainers and owners. But for bettors, having a say on who gets into a race is obviously a big draw and will probably make you more likely to bet on it.
Elsewhere, punters and purists tend to love the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Ranvet Stakes, and TJ Smith Stakes. We’d also recommend checking out the brilliant George Main Stakes at Randwick. All racing fans love to celebrate history, and the races named after two of Australia’s all-time greats – the Winx Stakes and Makybe Diva Stakes – are well worth checking out too.