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Move over Melbourne and Sydney. All the fun, fashion, excitement and glamour of first class Australian horse racing is coming to Brisbane from 12 May to 9 June. Melbourne has its iconic Spring Racing Carnival and Sydney has the BMW Sydney Racing Carnival, but the jewel in Brisbane's racing crown is the Brisbane Racing Carnival. It's five fabulous feature racing events over 2 racecourses and 5 consecutive Saturdays.
The Channel Seven Brisbane Racing Carnival is run by the Brisbane Racing Club, which was formed by the 2009 merger of the Queensland Turf Club and the Brisbane Turf Club, a first in Australian horse racing and a move that has since been successfully copied in New South Wales. The Carnival had a highly popular debut season in 2011, including champion mare Black Caviar's triumph in the Group 1 BTC Cup on the carnival's opening day, her thirteenth straight win.
The club operates across two sites - the adjacent Doomben and Eagle Farm racecourses. Their focus is not exclusively on the traditional horse racing community, but on providing a whole entertainment experience. The success of this approach can be seen in increased visitor numbers and a higher profile, echoing similar success in other states. These days the diehard punter in the pork pie hat mixes it with the silks and stilettoes of the fashionistas. In short, there's something for everyone and horse racing's never been hotter. So here are all the details you'll need to get that winning feeling this year, in spite of who actually wins.
Racefest 12 May Venue: Doomben Major Race: Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) weight for age with $400,000 prize money. Hospitality Highlights: Groove in the Grove Marquee - Racecourse and Marquee entry, vouchers for 4 drinks, pizza and nibblies, TAB facilities, dancing and DJ. $80 per person.
Kirk's Doomben Cup Day 19 May Venue: Doomben Major Race: Group 1 Doomben Cup (2020m) weight for age with $500,000 prize money. This is the carnival's premier distance event. Fashion: Family Fashions on the Field Hospitality Highlights: Family Zone Marquee - Racecourse and marquee entry, family activities and kids' rides, reserved seating, food stations, soft drink on arrival. $55 per adult, $10 per child, children under 5 free.
Apache Cat - a former winner at the carnival. Image from Brisbane Racing Carnival Facebook page
Carlton Mid Doomben 10,000 Day Date: 26 May Venue: Doomben Major Race: Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) weight for age with $650,000 prize money. Fashion:Fashions on the Field Hospitality Highlights: Revelry Marquee - Racecourse and Marquee entry, cocktail, DJ entertainment, lunch stations, TAB facilities. $85 per person. Top Shelf Marquee - Racecourse admission and enclosure pass, three course lunch by e'cco Bistro's chef, Philip Johnson, selected premium wine and beer. $420 per person.
Treasury Casino Queensland Oaks Ladies Day Date: 2 June Venue: Eagle Farm Major Race: Group 1 Treasury Casino Oaks (2400m) for three yr old fillies with $400,000 prize money. Fashion: David Jones Ladies Only Fashions on the Field. Hospitality Highlights: High Tea in the Vice Regal Room - Racecourse and Room entry, reserved seating, high tea, sparkling wine on arrival, tea and coffee. $110 per person
AAMI Stradbroke Day Date: 9 June Venue: Eagle Farm Major Race: Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) open handicap with $1 million prize money. Fashion: David Jones Fashions on the Field Hospitality Highlights: Lawn Party - Racecourse and precinct entry, buffet lunch, lawn tables and chairs, selection of wines, beer, soft drink, superscreen, live entertainment. $175 per person. Top Shelf Marquee - Racecourse admission and enclosure pass, three course lunch by e'cco Bistro's chef, Philip Johnson, selected premium wine and beer. $420 per person.
I've listed the more accessible hospitality options above. There are also plenty of dining choices such as Eagle Farm's Guineas Restaurant or the 10,000 Restaurant at Doomben. Corporate hospitality packages include Corporate Suites, Chalets and Trackside Corporate Marquees. Some bookings can be made via the website but some options will be selling through Ticketek from 2 April. Full details are available on the website here.
General Admission tickets cost $29.50 for all events, except Stradbroke Day, which is $33. A ticket for entry on any two days of the carnival is $41.50. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketek.
What a coup it would be if organisers can tempt trainer Peter Moody to resist the call of the South Australian Jockey Club, and Melbourne Racing Club's cashed-up offer of a special race, and instead bring Black Caviar back to Doomben for her attempted world record-breaking run. Then we could add history to the already heady mix of horses, hospitality and haute couture.