Photo via twitter.com/heraldsunsport
Tuesday 1st August marks the beginning of the new 2022/23 season for Victoria racing, one that promises to be stuffed full of quality across the 554-race calendar due to the record amount of prize money on offer. When announcing its new calendar (with some interesting tweaks) for the 2022/23 season, Racing Victoria also informed us that total prize money would now move past the A$300 million mark for the first time.
While the action doesn’t let up across July in Australian racing, it’s really August that gets the racing public in Melbourne into the swing of things. Saturday 6th August at Flemington Park is a date to keep in your diary, as it will see the grand opening of the iconic racecourse for the VRC Premier Race Day, which will include the showpiece Aurie’s Star Handicap.
Caulfield will host first Group 1
Later in August, we will see the focus switch to Victoria’s other iconic racecourse, Caulfield, for a couple of major race days. Saturday 27th August sees the first Group 1 race of the Victoria season, with the Mesmie Stakes held at Caulfield.
Other highlights of the early part of the Victoria racing season include the Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington on 10th September, the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (Caulfield, 17 th September) and the Moir Stakes (Moonee Valley, 23rd September).
Of course, for the Melbourne Cup jockeys, all eyes will be on the big prizes in October and November. Prize money has been increased for several of the blue-chip events in the late spring calendar, including big increases for the Darley Champions Sprint and the Coolmore Studs Stakes.
The Caulfield Cup Carnival will have its traditional place in mid-October, with A$5 million in prize money slated for the showpiece event on the 15 th September. The big question on everyone’s lips, however, is whether or not last year’s winner, Incentivize, will be fit and ready to regain his crown. The superstar 6yo, who is now trained by Peter Moody, has not been seen since last November when finishing second to Verry Elleegant in the Melbourne Cup.
Questions over Incentivize
Incentivize sustained injuries in that race, but there is plenty of hope that he will be back better than ever for the spring campaign. As for Verry Elleegant, it’s unlikely we will be seeing her as she is being primed for a run at Europe’s top staying events in October, with a shot at the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe being the ultimate goal.
While Australia might have lost Verry Elleegant to Europe, there will be the return of a hero who has conquered ‘up north’. Nature Strip dazzled the crowds at Royal Ascot in June, and the superstar sprinter will be back in Australia for his spring campaign. The most pressing bit of business is to retain The Everest.
All roads will lead to Flemington for Melbourne Cup Day on Tuesday 1st November, of course. At the moment, the betting is led by Japanese star Titleholder, with Incentivize just behind in the odds. Will it be that way on the day of the big race? We will have to find out over the next few months as Victoria begins to take center stage in the 2022/23 Australian racing season.