Morphettville Racecourse is the main racecourse in South Australia, located in the suburb of Morphettville approximately 8km outside of Adelaide. Morphettville races take part on one of the two tracks contained within the Morphettville circuit over 65 days of the year.
Location: Morphettville, South Australia
Main Track Circumference: 2,339 metres
Length of home straight: 334 metres
Races: 1000m - 3350m
The Morphettville Racecourse hosts 65 days of racing each year including 4 Group One races across the thoroughbred calendar.
With two tracks to host racing, The main Morphettville Racecourse and the Morphettville Parks track is South Australia’s premium racing facility.
Aside from racing Morphettville Racecourse is also home to the South Australian Jockey Club which has around 2000 members and 75 full time staff.
The Morphettville Racecourse is located approximately 8km outside the city of Adelaide and a few kilometres from Glenelg beach.
Morphettville Racecourse Course Details
Morphettville races today, as mentioned above take place on two tracks. The main Morphettville Racecourse and the Morphettville parks track located inside the main racecourse. Racing takes part on both tracks all year long.
The Main Racecourse: Morphettville Racecourse main track has a circumference of 2,339 metres with a 334 metre home straight. The track is 32 metres in width and has a 4% camber which gives runners in any position a chance to win. Overall the track bias is relatively even giving front runners and back markers every chance to take victory. In 2009 a world first was achieved on Morphettville’s main track when a retractable winning post with hydraulics was installed. This allowed the South Australian Jockey Club to interchange the running of events with the least amount of damage to either of the tracks through the heavy racing calendar and winter months.
Morphettville Parks Track: The new Parks Track is slightly smaller than the main racecourse due to its interior location to its larger counterpart. The circumference of the track is 2,100 metres with a finishing straight 320m long. The width of the track is 25 metres and a 5% camber on turns. The track hosts races for up to 14 runners and can play host to both flat and hurdle racing through the winter months. After the closure of the Victoria and Cheltenham Park Racecourses a 1400m chute was installed to the Parks track to accommodate the Group and Listed races once hosted there.
The history of how Morphettville Races today came to be and the story of the South Australian Jockey Club go back over 150 years to 1838 when the Turf Club of South Australia was formed.
Racing life in South Australia started out at Eastern Parklands which would later be known as the Victoria Park Racecourse. It was briefly moved between 1859 and 1869 to Thebarton Racecourse nicknamed the Butchers Course. Racing didn’t last long at Thebarton however due to the logistical requirements making it difficult to attend and the downhill smell from the abattoir on certain days.
Racing soon returned back to the Eastern Parklands, renamed Victoria Park in 1871 and it wasn’t until 1875 that the first meeting was held at Morphettville Racecourse under the newly formed South Australian Jockey Club..
The story of the South Australian Racing Club is a rich one having been formed and disbanded several times before becoming the governing body recognised today.
Originally in SA there were 3 racing bodies. The Adelaide Racing Club which held its racing at the Victoria Park Track (a.k.a Old Adelaide Course). The South Australian Jockey Club which held its racing originally at Thebarton before moving to Morphettville and the Port Adelaide Racing Club which ran its races at Cheltenham Racecourse.
In 1975 the government decreed that the three racing bodies had to be amalgamated under the SAJC umbrella. All three tracks continued to run races up until the early 2000s.
When Morphettville hosted its first races in 1875 it was only two years prior that the 4th iteration of the South Australian Jockey Club had been formed under the chairmanship of Sir John Morphett. Fittingly the first race was won by a horse called “Red Gauntlet” owned by the Honourable Thomas Elder who had sold the land to the SAJC to create the Morphettville track.
In 2008 the Victoria Park Racecourse was closed as a result of a decline in attendance and a rejection on receiving additional government funding to improve facilities. Victoria Park, which was a former host of the Formula One between 1985 and 1995, was to be renovated to be a public park.
The following year the Cheltenham Racecourse which hosted the Port Adelaide Racing Club was also closed. The land was sold off to a local consortium for housing development for $85m.
Morphettville Racecourse as a result saw its interior parks track developed in order to host the additional racing from Victoria and Cheltenham tracks. In 2009 the newly renovated Parks track was unveiled after $3.6m was spent to upgrade facilities.
Amongst all the transitions and amalgamations Morphettville Races also took on a 5 year sponsorship in 2005 and was briefly renamed to the Allan Scott Morphettville Racecourse following generous donations from Scott Group Companies. In 2010 it returned to Morphettville Racecourse.
Racing At Morphettville Racecourse
Since the racetrack merger of 2009 Morphettville Racecourse plays host to a number of group and listed races including 4 G1 features across the year.
Although not a Group 1 race, the Group 2 Adelaide Cup was one of the first feature races to be run in South Australia first taking place in 1864. The inaugural running of the race was won by Falcon for 500 guineas.
Nowadays the race takes place at Morphettville in Autumn for $400,000 and is run over 3200m. The 2020 running of the race on the Morphettville course proper was won by King Of Legorance for the Maher and Eustace stable.
Alongside the Adelaide Cup, the South Australian Derby and Australasian Oaks are features on the Morphettville racing calendar for the 3 year olds with trainers and owners having the chance to scoop $400,000 in prize money.
The Oaks was first run at Victoria Park in 1982 before being transitioned to the Morphettville Main Racecourse as part of Victoria Racecourse closure in 2008. The first race in 1982 was won by Kingston Rose, the Dam of future Melbourne Cup winner Kingston Rule who was sired from US racing champ Secretariat.
If the 2020 winner of the race, Toffee Tongue for trainer Chris Waller can follow those same heights it will be an interesting few years of racing ahead.
The South Australian Derby (originally the “Thebarton Derby”) was first run in 1860 at Thebarton racecourse and was won by a horse called Midnight. The Derby, as it became known, holds a colourful past as in 1866 the race was run just before Xmas day and between 1869 and 1875 it wasn’t run at all as a result of the SAJC folding and existing in name only for the period.
When it was reincarnated in 1876 the race was moved to Morphettville Racecourse and run during the Spring Carnival period in September. 160 years after the first running of the race the 2020 running of the Derby was won by Russian Camelot.
Away from distance racing Morphettville Racecourse also features the Goodwood, a group one race over 1200m run on the Morphettville course proper. The sprint race is for horses 3 year olds and older to be run at set weights with penalties.
One of the original Morphettville feature races, it was first run in 1881 and won by a horse called D.O.D. In the same year Morphettville saw the running of the inaugural Goodwood Handicap they also hosted royalty with Prince George and Prince Albert visiting the South Australian Racecourse.
In recent times the Goodwood has seen an overhaul to be a prominent feature in the South Australian racing calendar. Originally a principal race 1980 saw the Goodwood Handicap upgraded to a Group 1 feature .In 2007 the race conditions were updated from Handicap to set weights and the Handicap element removed from the name and it being rebranded “The Goodwood”. At the same time prize money was boosted to $1,000,000 making it the richest race in South Australia.
The race has had a high calibre of competitor since the change in the races layout with cult racing heroes such as Black Caviar and Takeover Target winning the race.
The final Group 1 hosted at Morphettville is the Robert Sangster Stakes. Originally the Swettenham Stud Stakes the race was renamed in honour of Robert Sangster, the principal of Swettenham Stud who passed away in 2004. The race was named after Sangster in recognition to his considerable contribution to the racing industry in South Australia.
Since its first running in 1983 the race has been upgraded gradually from a Special Race to a Group 1 with $400,000 prize money in 2005.
After its revamp in 2005 the Robert Sangster Stakes was set to run over 1200m as a weight for age feature for fillies and mares 2 years old and above. It also drew a high calibre of racehorse with Black Caviar contesting the 1200m sprint.
A Day Out At Morphettville Racecourse
For those attending Morphettville races facilities are high calibre and access couldn’t be easier. After development works in 2002 to improve the grandstand and further work in 2009 to improve the racing surface at Morphettville the racecourse is as competitive as other premium race tracks in the country.
Transport to Morphettville Races
Attending by Tram: The tram from Glenelg runs right past the racecourse and stop 12 just off Anzac Highway will drop you at the northern end of the race track. Trams run all day and after the course continue on to the city.
Attending by Car: If you are attending by car there is plenty of parking available at Morphettville Racecourse including a Morphettville Junction Carpark just off the Anzac Highway or alternatively Morphett Road Carpark opposite the members entrance.
Betting At Morphettville Racecourse
When placing a bet at Morphettville Races there are plenty of locally owned bookmakers on course as well as TAB facilities offering cash betting options. As always you can also look to corporate online bookmakers and the various Apps available to download from the likes of Ladbrokes and Neds.
Facilities At Morphettville Racecourse
Morphettville Races on a Saturday and throughout all race days offer a range of packages to make a punters race day experience a good one.
For general admission there are plenty of betting facilities and bars available in the main halls and grandstand.
If you are looking to hold a corporate function or event Morphettville also has Restaurant 1873 for sit down meals and a chance to watch racing from an interior view. There is also the Diva Lounge for those wanting premium viewing. The Lounge is located opposite the winning post and provides a clear view of racing at the bottom of the grandstand.
Members Area Dress Standard
Gentlemen: Suit, blazer, sports coat and tie, except during the period of daylight saving, when coats need not be worn, provided braces are not showing. Sport shoes and jeans not allowed.
Ladies: Suitable standard in keeping with the style of the Members' Enclosure.
Barrier Guide for Morphettville Racecourse
1000 metres: The start for 1000m is located on the side of the track. The straight is approximately 400m before hitting the home turn. As always with short distances inside barriers carry a slight advantage.
1050 metres: Almost identical to the 1000 metre start it is located on the side of the track.
1100 metres: Similar to the 1000 metres start. There is an extended run of 500 metres to the home turn.
1200 metres: Slightly different to the other sprint distances the start is located in a chute set off the course proper. There is a straight run of 600m before runners hit the home turn.
1600 metres: This barrier starts on the course proper in the back section of the course. It provides runners with a run of 300 metres before the first turn.
1800 metres: This start is located in a chute off the course proper in the back section of the course. It provides runners a straight run for 500 metres to the first turn. There is no real bias in the barrier draw.
2000 metres: This barrier starts in a chute off the course proper. It gives runners only 150 metres before the first turn into the back straight. Inside barriers have a considerable advantage.
2400 metres: The start can be found on the course proper in the home straight. Runners are on a slight angle from the start and have a straight run of only 150 metres to the back straight.
3200 metres: Where the Adelaide Cup starts. The start is located near the home turn. Because of the distance of the race barrier draws are usually not so important.
Contact Details For Morphettville Racecourse
SOUTH AUSTRALIAN JOCKEY CLUB
PO Box 707,
Ph. (08) 8295 0111
Fax (08) 8295 0136
The rich history of Morphettville Racecourse and the South Australian Jockey Club adds an additional element to attending a race day at the course. Having over 160 years of experience in the bank definitely gives them the edge in hosting a great race day.
South Australia's Autumn carnival although slightly smaller than its bigger neighbours, New South Wales and Victoria, still carries the same high calibre racing with a host of group and listed racing.
Attending the course is easy and on course facilities are up to date and have been well thought out through recent developments and course amalgamations.
We would recommend attending Morphettville Racecourse on one of the 65 days of racing available throughout the year.