There are many high-profile racecourses located throughout Australia with the likes of Flemington, Caulfield and Moonee Valley dominating the Victoria racing scene.
With major events such as the Cox Plate and the Melbourne Cup attracting significant crowds, the state is largely considered to be the home of Australian racing. However, there are also a number of racecourses that host regular race days yet tend to remain under the radar. Warrnambool is a track steeped in tradition but, despite hosting twenty high-quality racedays each year, it remains in the shadows of some of its neighbouring racecourses. It is an attractive proposition for those racing fans who enjoy venturing off the beaten track, and it is a sporting venue which many believe deserves more recognition.
Warrnambool is located along the Great Ocean Road, and is one of Victoria's most vibrant and picturesque coastal cities. Visitors to the area won’t struggle to locate the racecourse, which is situated in the heart of town. The track attracts swathes of sports fans each year, but the May Racing Carnival is easily the biggest draw. It is the only carnival in the country to be held over three days, and it features 23 flat races as well as seven pulsating jumps contests. Although there are a number of high-quality races taking place across the opening couple of days, the Grand Annual Steeplechase remains the standout event on the card. There have been many memorable renewals of this iconic jumps contest over the last twenty of years, although local trainer Symon Wilde's success in 2018 will be hard to top.
Competitors must travel over 5,500 metres and clear 33 fences en-route to the finishing pole, making it the toughest race in Australia. It is often compared to the Randox Health Grand National, which is held at Aintree Racecourse in the UK. The world-famous steeplechase sees horses compete over four miles, completing two laps of the Merseyside course, and is one of the most energy-sapping events on the racing calendar. It is also a hugely popular betting event around the world, and horses with proven stamina are always extremely popular with punters. Narrowing down the 40-strong field can often be a tricky task, and sites such as betting.betfair will provide racing tips today and throughout the three-day Aintree Festival for those who need pointing in the right direction.
The Grand Annual sits alongside the Sungold Milk Warrnambool Cup on day three of the carnival. The latter has been dominated by trainer Darren Weir in recent years, and he was victorious once again in 2018 with Gallic Chieftain. Other major races include the listed Midfield Group Wangoom Handicap and Scotty Stewart Brierly Steeplechase.
Country racing still commands a huge audience, and there is clearly a large appetite for the sport in Victoria. Whilst tracks such as Flemington will understandably command the majority of the headlines, country tracks such as Warrnambool are jewels in the crown of the sport, and are a must-visit for sporting enthusiasts. The three-day carnival continues to attract impressive numbers, and it is an event which should be on high every racing fan's bucket list.