Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival
We take a closer look at the Sunshine States key racing carnival including the big race days, where they take place and some of the major players who have featured in previous editions of the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnivals key races.
Where does the Winter Racing Carnival take place?
The Queensland Winter Racing Carnival is predominantly held at the states two major metropolitan racecourses - Doomben and Eagle Farm. There is also one major meeting held at the Gold Coast racecourse however work on track upgrades has seen that meeting moved to the Sunshine Coast this year.
The Sunshine Coast racecourse will be a busy one this year having picked up that Gold Coast meeting but also supports with its own race day meeting alongside Ipswich Racecourse.
The main racing takes place between May and June meaning that Queensland's two main and most prestigious metro tracks oversee the bulk of the action.
Dooben and Eagle Farm are located in the same suburb of Ascot in Queensland and have seen over 100 years of racing at each track.
The Eagle Farm racecourse is a heritage listed site and can trace its origins back 1863 where the Queensland Turf Club began construction on the site. The first competitive race meetings would take place after its construction in 1865 and play host to a number of significant names over the years .
In 1941 racing would be halted on the Eagle Farm racecourse as Australia donated the land to the US in order to house American troops who would help to support the war effort in the pacific. On its return to a race venue in 1946 the course was said to attract more than 45,000 spectators.
Opposite the Eagle Farm racecourse we have the Doomben race track which plays host to some of the states biggest races. Doomben was built in fact on the same patch of land as Eagle Farm and has hosted racing in the state apart from the 1941 transition to a military base.
Doomben has enjoyed years of racing and in 1996 was given a $3.3m facelift which brought the racecourse into modern day standards. A new irrigation system, Stewards towers and improved railings were all installed to improve racing conditions for the Winter Racing Carnival.
Gold Coast Racecourse
The Gold Coast racecourse is near the Surfers Paradise resort of Queensland and has been brought to fame in recent years for holding the week long Magic Millions race festival and yearling sales.
Racing began in the region when race meetings were held in old cane paddocks of Bundall back in the 1890’s. It wouldn’t be until 1946 the official racecourse would be built with the location now holding over 60 meetings a year including the Group 2 Hollindale Stakes which kicks off the Winter Racing Carnival.
Key Races of The Queensland Winter Racing Carnival
Some punters argue that the Brisbane Winter Carnival kicks off when the Group Two Victory Stakes are run in April of each year however given that the bulk of quality racing is held at Eagle Farm and Doomben between May and June many see this as the real Winter Racing Carnival.
We take a look at the major Group One races and Racing Horse Tips that take place during the Winter Carnival each year. Which are the biggest, previous winners and the history behind them.
The Doomben 10k is one of the most prestigious races to be held during the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival and draws a stellar field each year having been designated Group One status as well as a $1.5m in prize money.
Originally named the Doomben Newmarket Handicap the race changed it’s name in 1946 when the race was given a prize purse of £10,000 to celebrate the post war era thus making it the Doomben 10,000.
Previous winners have included big names including Redzel, Apache Cat and Baguette with the 2023 edition of the Doomben 10,000 won by Giga Kick for trainer Clayton Douglas.
The Doomben Cup is another one of the Brisbane Racing Clubs premier races with its origins dating back to when the racecourse was built in 1933. To date the Doomben Cup presents as one of the hottest weight for age distance races in the country.
The WFA contest is for horses 3 years and older over a distance of 2000m and boasts an impressive $1m in prize money. Previous winners have included the likes of Might and Power, Bernborough and Rough Habit who won the race three times between 1991 and 1993.
This year the 2023 edition of the Doomben cup was won by Huetor who claimed the 2000m to go back to back in the contest after winning the previous year.
Steeped in tradition the same as the other states versions of the Derby the Queensland Derby allows race goers the chance to dress in black and white to take in the states premier three year old race over 2400m.
Run under set weights the Queensland Derby also carries a $1m Prize Pool. It is run at Eagle Farm each year however was moved to Doomben between 2014 and 2015 after reconstruction work took place on the Eagle Farm track.
The Queensland Derby is one of the oldest races to take place in the state with it recorded that the race was first run in 1868 at Gayndah Racecourse before being moved to Eagle Farm in 1871.
While not the oldest race on the calendar this weight for age Group One has been growing in prominence given the exciting races that have been delivered by high calibre fields over it’s near 60 year history.
Previously named the BTC Cup, the race was renamed when it was relocated from Doomben to Eagle Farm in 2017 and named in honour of the famous Australian aviator Charles Kingsford-Smith.
The Kingsford-Smith Cup falls on the same day as the Queensland Derby and has previously been won by the likes of Black Caviar and Apache Cat. It also acts as one of the key lead in races to the Group One Stradbroke Handicap.
The Queensland Oaks
If every good state has a Derby there has to be an Oaks and Queensland are no exception with Queensland Oaks which gives three year old fillies the chance to compete at Group One level for $700,000 in prize money.
The race takes place over 2400m at Eagle Farm each year and was first run back in 1951 when short odds favourite Malt Maid won the race.
The Queensland Oaks has proved somewhat of a hotbed for producing talented runners Surround, Ethereal and the Mighty Mare Winx all winning editions of the Queensland Oaks before heading onto bigger things.
The Stradbroke Handicap is the flagship event of the Brisbane Winter Carnival. The 1,400m contest is worth $3m and presents the biggest prize pool for any runner over the duration of the Autumn Racing Carnival.
The race is named after Lord Stradbroke who is a relative to Henry John Rous, the originator of the Weight For Age scale which is used to this day in thoroughbred horse racing.
With it’s origins dating back to 1890 there have been a number of editions of the Stradbroke Handicap with a number of big name winners taking out editions of the race. Rough Habit is one of a few runners to have complete the Doomben Cup - Stradbroke double with Rough Habit having done it twice in 1991 and 92.
JJ Atkins Stakes
The JJ Atkins is the premier race for two year old horses in Queensland at Group One level and was first run in 1893 under the banner of the Claret Stakes. It was renamed the JJ Atkins Stakes in 2013 in honour of QLD trainer Jim Atkins who won the states racing premiership four times.
Run over a distance of 1600m at Eagle Farm the race is a fixed weight contest which is worth $1m in prize money. There have been three instances where the race has been transferred to Doomben racecourse due to redevelopment.
Previous winners of the JJ Atkins have included the likes of Mahogany, Luskin Star, Al Mansour and more recently Rothfire.
The Tattersall’s Tiara
The Tattersall's Tiara is one of the final Group 1 races of the Winter Carnival and is the last chance for three-year-old fillies and mares to win Group One gold. It is run over distance of 1400n at Eagle Farm, under weight-for-age conditions, with prize money of $600,000.
The race was first held as the Winter Stakes in 1989, but it was renamed in 2011. It is the final Group 1 race of the season in Australia, so it is always a big deal among punters.
Other Races To Watch Out For
More recently, as a way of boosting engagement in the states racing new races have been created and added to the schedule. The races were designed to boost a revamped Queensland racing schedule in 2021 and have quickly gained interest.
The Q22 was introduced as part of that revamp in 2021 and is the second richest race on the Brisbane Racing Calendar despite only carrying Group 2 classification in its first ever running.
The race was designed to replace the now defunct Eagle Farm Cup and is run over a distance of 2200m for a prize of $1.2m. In addition to the race prize pool there is also an added $200,000 bonus to any runner who can win either the AD Hollindale Stakes or the Doomben Cup followed by the Q22.
Twice Zaaki has been the red hot favourite to achieve the double and did so before the additional prize was introduced. He has the chance once again this year however standing in his was is Doomben Cup winner Huetor looking to achieve the same result after winning the Doomben Cup earlier in the campaign.
The Archer is another race that’s been added to the calendar in recent years with the New South Wales Everest heavily influencing its inauguration in 2022.
The Archer is a slot race like the Everest and carries a prize pool of $775,000. The first year it was run the prize pool was $275,000 and it is hoped that in 2024 this will be boosted once again to reach over $1m.
Run at Rockhampton Racecourse the $775,000 prize pool makes it the richest provincial race in the state.
With so much available in terms of prize pools Queensland is back to it’s best when it comes to the Winter Racing Carnival.