The Most Popular Racecourses in Australia

Australia ranks among many countries where horse racing is the most popular sport, coming first on the scale of the number of racecourses located in a single country. Only the United States has more horses than Australia starting races each year. On the scale of total prize money paid out at all the races, the country comes third after the United States and Japan.

Racing at Australian courses is popular both with thrilled spectators and ardent gamblers. More than two million people walk through racecourse gates each year, and close to $15 billion is placed as race wagers.

With around 360 recognised racecourses, Australia offers races over a variety of distances and in different racing styles. There are both right and left-handed courses, used to host both flat and National Hunt races. Here are some of the most renowned and popular courses in Australia:

  • Rosehill Gardens

This race is found in New South Wales and remains one of the oldest courses still in existence. It was first opened in 1885. The course is oval-shaped with a distance of 2048 metres and has a well-loved straight of 408 metres. The Rosehill hosts the Golden Slipper Stakes, a race for two-year-olds that attracts the highest number of spectators to the ground.

  • Flemington Racecourse

This course is most famous for hosting the world’s most iconic handicap horse race; the Melbourne Cup. During this carnival held in November, tens of thousands of fans come to the course located in Victoria, to be part of the great action. The record attendance is 122000 people set in 2003. This course has been in use since 1840, with turf races of flat, jump and steeplechase variety. The Victoria Racing Club owns and runs Flemington.

  • Albion Park Racecourse

This course is located in Brisbane, Queensland with a variety of races every year. It is a popular site for bookmakers and thrilled spectators alike.

  • Ascot Racecourse

One of the premier courses in Western Australia, Ascot shares the same royalty as its namesake in the UK. Racegoers come here not just for the major races, but also for the outstanding facilities in the form of viewing areas, restaurant, betting setups and general atmosphere.

  • Belmont Park Racecourse

The ‘pride of Perth’ is another well-loved racing ground in the West. With an estimated 1700-metre circumference, it rivals Ascot as regards richness and popularity in Perth. It has been in existence since early 1910 and is used purely for flat racing. The Belmont Sprint is the single most popular race that attracts most spectators to the ground.

  • Canterbury Park Racecourse

Sydney’s premier horse racing surface has numerous meetings each year, each attracting an impressive number of spectators. This is one of the courses with large and famed betting trends.

  • Clare Valley Racecourse

This course is located in the South, the home of Australian racing. There are record attendances set here almost every year. Despite being a small course compared to other surfaces in Southern Australia, Clare Valley is loved by racers. This makes it a host for races with the best horses, and consequently becomes a leading attraction for spectators.

Racing in Australia became mostly famous due to British settlement on the continent. The Brits brought with them a culture that had been popular for centuries in England, and the Australians embraced it with passion.

Many courses in Australia are named after a similar ground in the UK or Wales. The race types are similar too, but Australian racing still has its unique features. The races, for instances, include carnivals, and the atmosphere here is wholly Australian. Race-goers, for example, are known to go to races in traditional racing wear, during popular events like the Melbourne Cup.

The trend of racing in Australia sees a continued increase of racegoers each year. There was a slight dip in attendance at the 2018 Melbourne Cup, but this is an exception rather than the norm.