A celebration of colour and community on Kennedy Oaks Day

8 November 2023 Written by VRC

Classic staying fillies will take centre stage tomorrow at Flemington Racecourse for the $1 million Group 1 Kennedy Oaks (2500m), a race older than the Lexus Melbourne Cup.

Hall of Fame trainer and VRC Ambassador Gai Waterhouse AO and her training partner Adrian Bott saddle up two of the leading chances with Group 1 winner Tropical Squall and Group 2 TAB Wakeful Stakes (2000m) winner Amazonian Lass.

A purple haze will descend on the course for Kennedy Oaks Day, with all racegoers encouraged to add a splash of purple to their racewear to raise awareness for Flemington neighbours, The Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal.

Kennedy Oaks Day is the third day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, which has so far seen more than 157,000 people through the famous Flemington gates with approximately 45,000 people expected tomorrow.

The day will commence with a guard of honour at 11:40am in the Mounting Yard formed by racing participants for the arrival of past and present patients of The Royal Children’s Hospital including Hayden Clements, who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour at just five-years-old. Now 12-years-old, Hayden and his twin sister Carlee are ambassadors for the Good Friday Appeal and will be joined by their brother Riley, mum Simone and dad Richard on the day.

Racegoers will be encouraged to donate to the Appeal, while the Victoria Racing Club will also contribute $1 from the sale of every ‘1861’ cocktail, which will feature a purple flower in keeping with the colour theme of the day.

The traditional pink rose has also been replaced with the purple rose as tomorrow’s official flower.

In his final Cup Week as a competitive jockey, Damien Oliver will be aboard Basilinna for trainers Emma-Lee and David Browne. Oliver has won the race seven times with Northwood Plume (1994), Kensington Palace (1997), Special Harmony (2003), Jameka (2015), Miami Bound (2019), Personal (2020) and Willowy (2021), and will look to make it a record-breaking eight Oaks tomorrow.

As always, Kennedy Oaks Day celebrates the fillies and mares who are the stars of the show on the track. Other stakes races include the $300,000 The Bachelors Red Roses Stakes (1100m) for three-year-old fillies, the $200,000 Group 3 Darley Ottawa Stakes (1000m) for two-year-old fillies and the $350,000 Inglis Bracelet (1600m) for fillies and mares sold through an Inglis sale.

Another highlight is the ever popular $500,000 Melbourne Cup Carnival Country Final (1600m), restricted to country-trained horses who have qualified through a series of heats at regional racecourses. Among those trainers with runners are former champion jumps jockey Shane Jackson, who prepares just three horses from his Warrnambool base, and Andrew Bobbin, a rugby league player and CNN cameraman turned Grampians based horseman.

The world-famous Birdcage Enclosure will play host to a who’s who of entertainment, sport, business and media including Melbourne Cup Carnival Ambassadors, the late Princess Diana’s nieces Lady Amelia and Lady Eliza Spencer and Demi Brereton, VRC Ambassador Crystal Kimber-Peters, media personality Melissa Leong, racing royalty Danny and Nina O’Brien and celebrity chef Luke Mangan for Lexus, actor and Amazing Race Celebrity Edition finalist Darren McMullen, sporting personality Abbey Holmes and model Tegan Martin for G.H Mumm, Miss World Australia 2023 Jasmine Stringer and Sydney AFL Player Tom Papley for TAB and AFL stars Max Gawn, Steven May and Jaidyn Stephenson for Schweppes.

The hotly contested Melbourne Cup Carnival Fashions on the Field competition hosted in The Park will reach its crescendo in the Best Dressed and Best Suited categories, with the Cup Week daily finalists set to come up against the international and Australian digital winners in the Grand Final at 2:55pm and 3:25pm respectively.

Grand Final judges will include Kennedy Chief Operating Officer Sonia Bettega, Melbourne Fashion Festival CEO Caroline Ralphsmith and Melbourne Cup Carnival Ambassadors Lady Amelia and Lady Eliza Spencer.

Winners and finalists of Fashions on the Field will share in a total prize pool of over $350,000 with an incredible suite of prizes from sponsors including Kennedy, Penfolds, TCL Electronics, Sofitel Melbourne On Collins, Schweppes, TAB and Network 10.  The Best Dressed and Best Suited winners each take away over $54,000 in cash and prizes. 

The Park Live Stage will see the ever-popular Australian electronic rock band Rogue Traders, fronted by the remarkable Natalie Bassingthwaighte, get the party started.  Hot Dub Time Machine will then take racegoers on a trip through the decades, which will keep the festivities going well into the evening.

The Park is Flemington’s ultimate general admission playground and a must-visit destination for fashionistas, music lovers and foodies.  The delicious food offerings include a new and exclusive Flemington pop-up, The Ranch. The reimagined Pony Bar will serve the new Flemington Cocktail, the 1861.  Created by Crown mixologist Joe Jones, the cocktail is named to celebrate the first running of the Melbourne Cup. 

VRC partner activations in The Park include a Penfolds Rose and Croquet playing field, Furphy Container and Beer Truck, Smirnoff pop-up bar, a Coffee Caravan serving St Remio coffee and the TAB Lobby.

The VRC’s Pin & Win campaign has raised more than $7.4 million for charities over almost 30 years and this year will see Lexus Melbourne Cup pins sold across the course for charity partner Australian Childhood Foundation. Pin & Win Ambassadors Olivia Molly Rogers and Anthony Cincotta will be on-course selling pins and promoting the important campaign.

The commemorative pins cost $7 for the Cup pin and $12 for the diamante horseshoe, with all purchasers eligible to enter the draw to win over $188,000 worth of prizes including a brand new 2023 Lexus RX350h 2WD.

Flemington turns purple for Kennedy Oaks Day as the community comes together for The Good Friday Appeal. Be part of this special day with friends, family, colleagues and the whole community. Celebrate over food, fashion, and elite thoroughbred racing headlined by the three-year-old fillies in the time-honoured Group 1 Kennedy Oaks. Tickets available now.