Flemington is easily recognisable as Australia’s best known racecourse. Home to the Melbourne Cup, there have been races at Flemington Racecourse every year since 1840. Flemington hosted its very first race meeting in March 1840, when the town of Melbourne was only five years old. Due to the national significance of Flemington, it was placed on the National Heritage List on November 7, 2006. Flemington Racecourse is located on low alluvial flats next to the Maribyrnong River. The surrounding hill provides spectators with a perfect view of the track.
The Melbourne Cup, which is held annually on the first Tuesday of each November, was first run in 1861. It is a national holiday in Victoria and is known Australia-wide as the ‘race that stops a nation’. Run over a distance of 3,200 metres, it is a quality handicap open to horses 3 years old and over. The Melbourne Cup is the richest and most prestigious ‘two-mile’ handicap in the world, and is worth $6 million in prize money, with the winner receiving $3.3 million.
Flemington was initially run by two rival clubs known as the Victoria Turf Club and Victoria Jockey Club who ran their own separate race meetings at the track. However, in 1864 the two clubs merged to form the Victoria Racing Club.
Flemington or Melbourne Racecourse as it was originally called, is famous for its 1200m straight known as ‘the Straight Six’, due to being six furlongs in length. Races are run in an anti-clockwise direction and the track is fully grassed. The track circumference is 2312 metres long while races greater than 1200 metres in distance have a 450 metre home straight.
Flemington is now also a great centre for horse training, with many of Australia’s best trainers maintaining stables near, if not at, the racecourse.