Horse Racing Tips

Derby Day: Christmas For Punters

Santa comes early as Derby Day heralds the beginning of the most magical week of the year.

Super Saturday is the most overused expression in racing besides “Three wide, no cover” or “One out, one back”.

However, Super Saturday is a perfect description when discussing VRC Derby Day.

Funnily enough, In recent years, Derby Day has also been labelled “Christmas Day for Adults” by tragic sporting and racing fans.

Besides the obvious functions and after-parties, we look at why middle age men all over the country are counting down to the real Christmas Day.


The Racing

The quality of racing on Derby Day is second to none. It is the only race day in Australia where every race holds Group status.

This is the day when great horses create a legacy, breeding value and reputation for the next chapter of careers are established, and the spectacle for fans and punters on course is next level.

Watching the best horses battle it out down the Flemington straight is spinetingling. Besides The Derby, The Group 1 Coolmore and The Group 1 Empire Rose provide the racing highlights and memories, while a host of Group 2 and Group 3 events help make a great day incredible.  

The Significance

Derby Day officially starts Melbourne Cup Week. Cup week is a celebration of our great sport not only at Flemington but around the city of Melbourne, with shops, pubs, clubs, and cafes all decorated with racing paraphernalia creating a Grand Final-like atmosphere across the city.

Cup week is now also broadcasted live around the world. Our great race isn’t Australia’s great race anymore; it’s the world’s. This is also reflected by the number of international raiders that target the race each year.

Vintage Crop in 1993 created a path and a blueprint for internationals to target and win The Cup. Since that defining year, more internationals have lined up in the final field than the locally bred competitors.

The History And Intrigue

The history of Derby Day is something to treasure. First run in 1855, it is actually our oldest racing tradition and, in fact, is older than the Melbourne Cup. The older generation and racing purists on course Saturday will only be in black and white paying homage to the event’s history, while the next generation will be starred at if they are “out of uniform”.

In 1930 Phar Lap won The Derby before incredibly winning three other races in the week, including The Cup. Going back through the history of Derby Day, each year, there has been a life-changing chapter written, a gripping tale, or an anomaly to tell.

There have been fillies winning the race; there’s been a horse to win it twice in the same year, and the distance has been changed several times, while Bobbie Lewis and James Scobie have both taken out the race eight times as a jockey and a trainer, respectively.

Flemington Racecourse

The Flemington racecourse sets the tone on Derby Day for something special. As you walk through the golden Hill Stand gates, you are only moments away from the best view in world racing.

A stunning city backdrop compliments the breathtaking racecourse. From any vantage point on the course, it is one to appreciate, take a minute, and breath it in.

How about smelling the roses? Flemington is home to the largest rose display in the southern hemisphere. As you walk around Flemington on Derby Day, you will also see the history of racing come to life with the Phar Lap statue, the Makybe Diva Statue, the Carbine Shed, and of course, the Bart Cummings Statue.

The Build Up

Post Cox Plate Day, the racing media is focused heavily on Flemington.

From Monday’s nominations until Wednesday’s acceptances, there is a lot of moving and shaking. It is similar to the third quarter of an AFL Grand Final, i.e. The Premiership quarter. Speculation, confirmation, and whispers, all making cases for and against runners making or not making the final fields.

Again similar to Grand Final Day, there are usually good luck and bad luck stories with last-minute withdrawals and surprise inclusions.

So if your love for Santa has come and gone like last week’s pay, don’t worry; these days, Christmas comes to Melbourne twice a year. 

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