Flemington Racecourse is undoubtedly the most prestigious racing track in Australia, with a rich history of horse racing dating back to 1840. This year Flemington hosts the 154th Melbourne Cup Carnival, and while we’re busy preparing outfits and picking horses to back, the team at the Victoria Racing Club are working overtime to prepare the venue for one of Australia’s biggest celebrations. We took some time to find out what goes into putting on one of the nation’s biggest sporting events.
The Melbourne Cup Carnival sees the world’s attention turn to Flemington as it hosts one of the most extravagant and exciting events of the year. For the team at Flemington, a huge amount of organisation and pre-planning is necessary to ensure the Carnival week runs smoothly. Believe it or not, preparation commences for the following year’s event almost as soon as the sun has set on Stakes Day – the final day of the week long event!
Flemington is well known for being one of the most beautiful and well-kept racetracks, wowing guests each and every year with the most beautiful display of roses which have become synonymous with the Melbourne Cup Carnival. The roses however were not always grown in such large numbers and it wasn’t until the early 60’s that the massed rose beds were established. The roses were originally grown in a large nursery complex onsite and then planted out twice a year to coincide with the Spring and Autumn racing seasons. Eventually this became too expensive to maintain and the roses were actually planted in the ground as a way to cut costs, with no one knowing that over the years they would become such an iconic part of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Today however, the grounds gardeners begin preparing the 16,000 rose plants in the last week of May when the winter prune of the roses commences, so that by late October the roses are in their full beautiful bloom – perfectly timed for the start of the Carnival.
With over 330,000 people flocking to Flemington for the carnival each year, catering teams need to bring their A game to ensure plenty of food and drinks are available to racegoers each day. Last year more than 650 chefs worked across the four main days of the carnival with attendees consuming 30,000 scones, 34,000 chicken sandwiches, 56,000 party pies and 40,000 bottles of champagne! The catering companies went through an impressive 2,400 kilos of poultry, 459 dozens of oysters and 2,373 kilos of fish fillets. And while these volumes may insinuate a more basic food offering, this is most certainly not the case – the Carnival is a key platform for chefs and cooks to really showcase their gastronomic skills on a larger scale, with some of Australia’s top chefs flying in to work their culinary magic in some of the marquees in the famous Birdcage Enclosure.
The Melbourne Cup Carnival kicks off with AAMI Victoria Derby Day in less than two weeks’ time, and we’re counting down the days until the fun begins at this iconic racecourse! And if, like us, you’re still planning your outfits, why not come along to one of our Spring Racing Shopping Nights being held on Thursday 23 October at our Sydney City and Melbourne City stores between 6pm and 9pm? With styling workshops, guest appearances and special one night only offers, we have all your racewear needs covered! See you there!