Melbourne Cup Carnival shines as Australia's biggest racing event

Victoria Racing Club (VRC) Chief Executive Officer Neil Wilson has declared the 2018 Melbourne Cup Carnival a great success, highlighted by a break through Lexus Melbourne Cup win for Godolphin.

“Cross Counter’s victory in the 158th Lexus Melbourne Cup saw Godolphin and Great Britain secure their place in the rich history of our great race,” Mr Wilson said.

On the Carnival’s opening day premier Victorian trainer Darren Weir won the AAMI Victoria Derby at his first attempt, with Extra Brut, and on Thursday, Flemington trainers Matthew Ellerton and Simon Zahra tasted Kennedy Oaks success for the first time, clinching the $1 million three-year-old classic with Aristia.

The Melbourne Cup Carnival came to a close with Saturday’s Seppelt Wines Stakes Day. A strong crowd of 67,567 witnessed AAMI Victoria Derby-winning jockey John Allen ride the Jarrod McLean-trained Trap For Fools to take out the $2 million feature race of the day, the Seppelt Mackinnon Stakes.

Irish horse Latrobe was second for 2017 Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Joseph O’Brien, while AAMI Victoria Derby winner Extra Brut was third for Darren Weir.

Santa Ana Lane, trained by Anthony Freedman and ridden by Mark Zahra, clinched the $1 million VRC Sprint Classic from In Her Time in second and Jungle Cat and Pierata which dead heated for third.

Throughout the Carnival, 451 horses competed in 37 races, representing an average field size of 12.2 runners. The four race cards, offering more than $20 million in prize money, saw 23 individual trainers and 21 jockeys enjoy victory.

The J.B. Cummings Excellence Award went to the training partnership David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig for their outstanding Melbourne Cup Carnival achievements, and the Ron Hutchinson Excellence Award was won by jockey James McDonald.

Champion jockey Damien Oliver equalled the record of most Melbourne Cup Carnival career wins with victory in the final race of Cup Week, to draw level with Bobby Lewis on 72 wins.

Channel 7’s coverage of the Lexus Melbourne Cup was streamed to an Australian and global audience on Twitter for a third straight year, watched by more than 2 million viewers, up from 1.6 million in 2017. The United Kingdom alone had over 1 million viewers tune in on Twitter to watch the British trifecta. Channel 7’s live coverage of the Lexus Melbourne Cup peaked at 2.7 million viewers around the country, while live streaming of the race on 7Plus was up 38%.

Under the brilliant sunshine of Seppelt Wines Stakes Day and braving the torrential rain of Lexus Melbourne Cup Day, 303,587 local, interstate and international visitors flocked to the 2018 Melbourne Cup Carnival to enjoy the racing, fashion, entertainment and hospitality of the world’s most vibrant racing event.

“We are delighted with the attendance figures, considering the poor weather on Lexus Melbourne Cup Day. The four Melbourne Cup Carnival racedays were again the four most attended in the country,” Mr Wilson said.

“This has been a momentous Carnival for the VRC and Flemington, with the opening of the $128 million world-class Club Stand at Australia’s premier racecourse.

“The Park was a top destination for a third year, showcasing fashion, food and entertainment, while the grandstands, members carparks, Birdcage and lawns also buzzed with racegoers enjoying Flemington at its best.

For the fourth year in a row, four cruise ships—the most ever docked in Melbourne at one time—delivered almost 8,000 visitors to the Cup. Three ships sailed from Sydney and one from Brisbane.

“The Melbourne Cup Carnival is a resounding tourism success story. This is Australia’s original major event, and it contributes to the economy like no other,” Mr Wilson said.

The Birdcage enclosure again played host to international and local celebrities including Elle Macpherson and Megan Gale at Lexus; Montana Cox at Kennedy; Rebecca Harding at Seppelt Wines; Elyse Taylor and Usain Bolt at Mumm; Sam Smith, Dionne Warwick and Bella Heathcote at 1 Oliver St; Lara Worthington at Bumble; and Scott Disick and Sofia Richie at Ultra.

Myer Fashions on the Field was a hit in The Park, where 556 stylishly dressed men and women and 305 children and families competed for more than $436,000 in prizes.

The Christian family—father Julian with children Millicent, 13, Jemima, 11, Imogen, 9, and Felix, 7—from Moonee Ponds in Melbourne took out the family category in coordinated lilac outfits at Seppelt Wines Stakes Day Myer Fashions on the Field.

The junior categories were won by Menzii Andrews, 6, from Mornington and Freddie Tulloch, 6, from Glen Iris, while senior honours went to Lucy Palmer, 15, from Cohuna, and Lachlan Campbell, 15, from Sunbury.

On Kennedy Oaks Day Queenslander Carle Rutledge won the Myer Fashions on the Filed National Women’s Racewear competition in a plum Roksanda dress, yellow MNG shoes, self-made millinery, Mimco jewellery and a handbag from Bag Queen.

Pin & Win—in support of JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation)—offered more than $135,000 in prizes, including a Lexus NX 300h AWD F Sport. This year marks the 24th year of Pin & Win, with all proceeds supporting the leading global organisation funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research with a mission to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications.

2018 Melbourne Cup Carnival Group 1 winners

Prize Money  Winner
 Coolmore Stud Stakes  $1,002,500 Sunlight   Tony McEvoy  Luke Carrie
Empire Rose Stakes   $502,500 Shillelagh  Chris Waller  James McDonald
 AAMI Victoria Derby  $2,010,000 Extra Brut   Darren Weir  John Allen
 Kennedy Mile  $1,002,500  Best of Days  James Cummings  Craig Williams
 Lexus Melbourne Cup  $7,300,000  Cross Counter  Charlie Appleby  Kerrin McEvoy
 Kennedy Oaks  $1,005,000  Aristia  Matthew Ellerton and Simon Zahra  Damien Lane
 VRC Sprint Classic  $1,002,500  Santa Ana Lane  Anthony Freedman  Mark Zahra
 Seppelt Mackinnon Stakes  $2,005,000  Trap For Fools  Jarrod McLean  John Allen


2018 Melbourne Cup Carnival attendances

AAMI Victoria Derby Day  91,194
 Lexus Melbourne Cup Day  83,471
 Kennedy Oaks Day  61,355
 Seppelt Wines Stakes Day  67,567
 Total  303,587