Sandown Racecourse, now called Ladbrokes Park; with year-round thoroughbred racing action combined with a wide range of high octane motor racing circuit events and driver training pursuits.
Known from its celebrated opening in June 1965 until November 2008 as Sandown Racecourse, today's Ladbrokes Park also enjoys a growing reputation as a first-class function and event centre.
Sandown Racecourse Details
The Sandown Racecourse Hillside track has a circumference of 2,097 metres and straight of 491 metres, whilst the Lakeside track has a circumference of 1,891 metres and straight of 407 metres. Both tracks are made of turf and direction of travel for all races is anti-clockwise.
Sandown Racecourse is a specialist track. Barriers are not that important here as all starts there have a good straight to get your mount into a good position before the first turn. Sandown Racecourse is not really a front-runner’s track as many are run down by horses coming from well back. The average number of horse in race fields is 10.
History Of The Sandown RaceTrack
Racing commenced at Sandown Racecourse in 1965 and was administered by the Victoria Amateur Turf Club (VATC), which also looked after racing at Caulfield. The Club started a five 5 year plan in 2001 to establish a second turf track at Sandown to be known as Hillside, and the existing track to be renamed Lakeside. The racecourse had an additional 30 metre wide home turn and the main straight widened to 45 metres from its original 30 metres, and the turn leading out of the straight widened from 30 metres to 45 metres.
The Sandown Racecourse had a major upgrade in 1999 and its premier race, the Sandown Cup, was reinvented as the Sandown Classic, with increased prize money and a change from handicap to weight-for-age conditions. A permanent Quarantine Centre at Sandown Racecourse was completed in 1997 and used to house visiting international horses.
Racing History at Track
Unlike most of the other metro racecourses in Australia, Sandown Racecourse is viewed as new, having opened in 1965.
The Zipping Classic, Sandown’s biggest race, dates to 1888. The race was originally held at the Williamstown Racecourse, the domain of the Williamstown Racing Club.
The first races from 1888 through 1962 were dubbed as the Williamstown Cup.
Somewhat oddly, the race name changed to Sandown Cup in 1963, nearly two years before the track opened. Another name change came along in 1999. For 12 years, the race was known as the Sandown Classic.
It became the Zipping Classic in 2011, after the four-time winner Zipping.
Good horses have won the race, the most notable from the old era being Amounis in 1928.
Since moving to Sandown, the race has continued to attract strong fields.
Light Fingers won in 1966. She had won the Melbourne Cup in 1965.
Gunsynd took the race in 1971 and took the Cox Plate in 1972, but his attempt at the Melbourne Cup left him with a third place result.
We encounter Light Fingers as a winner in 1964 of the other Group 2 race at Sandown, the Sandown Guineas. This was the last year the race was held at Caulfield.
The other Group races held at Sandown Racecourse are all Group 3 level. They are the Eclipse Stakes, the Sandown Stakes, the Summoned Stakes and the Kevin Heffernan Stakes.
The most notable winners of the Eclipse Stakes were 1988’s Super Impose and 2001’s Fields Of Omagh, both Cox Plate winners, with Fields Of Omagh winning twice, in 2003 and 2006.
The Group 3 Sandown Stakes is a newer race, starting in 1981. It has had almost as many different names as editions of the race. This is the sort of race that has had some good horses, but any that have been good moved onto richer races. There has been just the one repeat winner, Mahisara, in 2012 and 2013.
The only notable winner we saw in the list was 2016’s Redkirk Warrior. He was racing in Hong Kong, but when brought to Australia he won the Group 1 Newmarket at Flemington in 2017 and the Group 1 Lightning Stakes in 2018 before winning the Newmarket for a second time.
The Group 3 Summoned Stakes is even newer, having been first contested in 1995. This race is age and gender restricted to mares four years aged and above, but the list of winners is filled with mostly anonymous mares. Silent Sedition was a handy mare that won the race in 2016 and eked out a Group 1 win in the 2017 Group 1 William Reid Stakes.
The other Group 3 race held at Sandown is the Kevin Hefferman Stakes.
This is a weight-for-age race over 1300 metres. It has been run since 2000.
Bomber Bill won in 2005. We liked this horse and would shout him a schooner of oats if we saw him at the local. The reason is that he made 98 starts and we have always appreciated that sort of galloper. The Hefferman was a Listed race at the time. He won the Group 1 Goodwood in 2003.
The other notable named we noticed was 2013’s Lankan Rupee.
He was by the prodigious sire Redoute’s Choice, so his racing success is not surprising. The Kevin Hefferman was his first Group win. He had a three-race streak the following year when he won the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes a Caulfield, backed by a Group 1 win in the Oakleigh Plate, and immediately followed by winning the Newmarket. He resumed in 2014 with a win in the T J Smith Stakes at Randwick.
Two seconds followed, the first being the Group 2 McEwen Stakes at Moonee Valley and he A J Moir Stakes before his win in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes. He won the Lightning Stakes in 2015, after Black Caviar was done with her three wins.
Lucky Hussler was the 2016 winner. He had won the Magic Millions Cup earlier in the year and in 2015, he was a winner at the Group 1 Toorak Handicap. The Hefferman was his last win.
A Day Out at Sandown Racecourse
There are some options for anyone interested in spending a nice, leisurely day at Sandown Racecourse.
Thoroughbred fans will want to focus on the month of November, as that is when the premier races held at the course are staged.
Meetings are held on other days, too, but the main attraction is the Group 2 Zipping Classic, a stayer’s weight-for-age race.
In total, Sandown Racecourse has over 40 race meetings per season and the Sandown Guineas and the Zipping Classic are considered the conclusion to the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
Those interested in a different form of horsepower can see motor racing in the form of Supercars, which makes for an excellent day out at Sandown.
For Saturday and mid-week meetings, the course opens its gates at 10 in the morning.
Transport To Sandown Racecourse
By Car. Melways reference 80 D7. The racecourse can be reached by travelling along the Monash Freeway or the Princes Highway to the Springvale Road exit. From there follow the signs and look out for the turn-off to the course. This trip will take you about 30 minutes to get to Sandown along these routes. Free public parking is available at the Centre Car Park on race days. The marketers of Sandown describe the car park as vast, so going by car actually makes some sense here.
By Train. Sandown racecourse can be reached in 40 minutes by train from Flinders Street Station in Melbourne from Sandown Park railway station on the Pakenham and the Cranbourne railway lines.
By Bus. Travelling to Sandown Racecourse by bus is available from platform bay 6 at Chadstone Shopping Centre. Take bus route 800 towards Dandenong and alight at stop Corrigan Road and Princes Highway Springvale. The racecourse is directly opposite. This trip will take you approximately 45 minutes.
Charter Buses. If travelling as a group to the racecourse, the MRC recommends Nuline Charter. They are a privately owned business and cater for all suburbs of Victoria.
By Taxi. Travelling by taxi you can be dropped off on Racecourse Drive at the main gate. Leaving the racecourse taxi stands are located out the front of the main gate of the racecourse.
Anyone wanting to have a punt at Sandown Racecourse will obviously find Ladbrokes there. There may be some other stands and some rails bookies present, but when everyone at the races has every bookie under the sun on his or her phone, mobile betting basically renders all other betting channels redundant.
Sandown is available for various purposes other than racing. A few examples are trade shows and exhibitions. There are also conference and meeting facilities and covered outdoor areas.
The nearest places to stay are the Atura Dandenong, Apartments of Waverly and the Comfort Inn. There are plenty of other accommodation options as well.
Men over the age of 13 must dress presentably.
This includes tucked in collared shirts worn tucked into long or short pants that are not denim and are smartly tailored and creased.
Women 13 years of age and over have more leeway, but are still encouraged to adhere to the same standards of fashion as are the ladies in the Members’ Reserve.
Outside the Members’ Reserve, the Melbourne Racing Club prefers what they describe as “smart casual attire.”
Boys and girls under the age of 13 are expected to mimic the attire of the older men and women.
At no time will the Members’ Reserve permit denim and casual jackets, denim shorts, torn shorts or trousers or beat up footwear.
Melbourne Racing Club staff are on hand to enforce the dress code and are given some latitude to use their discretion to keep the place looking snazzy.
Barrier Guides For Sandown Racecourse
1000 metres: This start is located at the end of a long chute off the course proper. There is a straight run of about 600 metres to the home turn. Barriers are not that important here.
1200 metres: Situated on the course proper in the back straight of the course. There is a straight run of about 400 metres before a sweeping double bend to the home straight. Inside barriers are a slight advantage.
1400 metres: Also in the back straight giving runners a 600-metre straight before the turn. Barriers are of little consequence.
1500 metres: This start can be found in a chute off the back straight. Again barriers don't really come into play due to the long 700 metres straight.
1600 metres: This barrier is found at the end of the chute in the back straight giving runners a long 800-metre straight run before the turn.
2100 metres: This barrier is located in the home straight. There is a good straight run of about 400 metres to the first sweeping double bend. Inside barriers are a slight advantage.
2400 metres: This barrier starts in a chute at the top of the home straight. There is a good run straight run of about 700 metres to the first sweeping double bend. Inside barriers are a slight advantage.
Mail: Sandown Racecourse, PO Box 231, Caulfield East, VIC 3145
Phone: +61 3 9518 1362 will get the main switchboard. This is the number to use for anyone interested in holding an event at the course facilities. There are other numbers as well. The Fax number is +61 3 9518 1331. Those interested in the dining facilities can call +61 3 9257 7100 and anyone interested in becoming a member should contact +61 3 9257 7288.
Sandown Racecourse makes an excellent choice for those interested in seeing some good racing without all the pomp and circumstance that goes along with the racing at Flemington and Caulfield.
The horses running here will be either up-and-comers or those in the latter parts of their racing careers, but for those horses simply playing out the final few starts, Sandown is an excellent place to find some of the champions that made their reputations on the other Victorian metro courses or in New South Wales.