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Flemington's iconic Straight Six

19 January 2023 Written by VRC

Every visitor to the VRC administration offices at 448 Epsom Road marvels at the unique view from the elevated entrance lobby. The Club’s Dinning Room, one level higher, has floor-to-ceiling windows offering the most spectacular sightline down the track, stretching to the elms and the Maribyrnong River precinct far beyond.

It’s a stunning aspect, a long sward of green turf flanked on either side by clean white running rails, the perspective narrowing into the distance. It's Flemington's famous Straight Six.

It's called the Straight Six because it's 'six' furlongs, and it stands-out as the jewel in the crown of global sprint racing. 

We're very lucky to have one of the last remaining straight tracks in Australian racing.

Adelaide’s defunct Victoria Park Racecourse in the city parklands used to boast a five-furlong straight course, and Brisbane’s Doomben originally had a straight six, lost to the adjacent airfield in the Second World War. Other than Pinjarra in Western Australia that has a 1000m straight course, Flemington is the only other course with a straight sprinting track in Australia. 

The Flemington Straight Six evolved, and was not originally a feature of the original 1840 racecourse. For the first twenty years the Flemington home straight was along the river side with the winning post close to Smithfield Road.

In 1860 everything changed, with the home straight repositioned below the big Flemington Hill. In 1862, for the second-ever Melbourne Cup, the authorities wisely created an extended starting chute to allow competitors a half-mile straight run before approaching the first turn. This was the beginning of our famous Straight Six.

Notable racetracks around the world with straight courses

ASCOT, UK

1600m (mile) straight course up multiple undulations. A testing course especially the mile. A happy hunting ground for Australian sprinters that have performed first on the Flemington straight before winning at the Royal Ascot Carnival.

Group 1 King’s Stand stakes (1000m or 5 furlongs) – won by Choisir, Takeover Target, Miss Andretti, Scenic Blast, Nature Strip.

Group 1 Platinum Jubilee Stakes (1200m or 6 furlongs) – won by Choisir, Starspangledbanner, Black Caviar, Merchant Navy.


NEWMARKET, UK (two straight courses)

The Rowley Mile

1-mile 2 furlong (2000m) straight with minor undulations towards ‘The Bushes’, two furlongs (400m) out. The penultimate furlong (200m) is downhill and the last is uphill, forming ‘The Dip’. Races beyond the distance of 1m 2f start on the ‘Cesarewitch’ or ‘Beacon’ course which turns right-handed into the straight.

Famous races run on the Straight course – Group 1 2,000 Guineas for 3YOs and Group 1 1,000 Guineas for fillies over a mile (approx. 1600m). The Dewhurst for 2YOs run over 7 furlongs (approx. 1400m).

The July Course

Sometimes called the Summer Course, has a 1-mile (1600m) straight, known as ‘The Bunbury Mile’. After 2 furlongs (400m), there is a long downhill stretch before the uphill furlong (approx. 200m) to the finish. This course also uses the ‘Cesarewitch/Beacon’ course for longer distances, again turning right into the straight.

Famous races run on the Straight course – Group 1 July Cup 6 furlongs (approx. 1200m). Won by Australian-bred Starspangledbanner.


LONGCHAMP, PARIS

The Hippodrome de Longchamp or Longchamp Racecourse in Paris is “noted for its variety of interlaced tracks”. One of the five layouts is a straight 1000m (‘La ligne droite’ or ‘The Straight Line’) course that crosses over directly through two of the tracks and joins the fourth circuit going the opposite direction to its usual use (the other three layouts race clockwise), with the winning post being far from the grandstand and public patrons.

Their premier straight race is the Group 1 Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp over 1000m, run on the same day as arguably the most prestigious race in the world, the Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe over 2400m.


Other Straight Six courses around the world

  • Sha Tin (Hong Kong) – 1000m
  • Meydan (Dubai) – 1200m

Other Australian successes in straight racing

  • Ortensia – ran third behind Black Caviar up the Flemington straight before winning the G1 Al Quoz Sprint (Meydan), G2 King George Stakes (Goodwood), G1 Nunthorpe Stakes (York).
  • Buffering – won the VRC Sprint Classic before winning the G1 Al Quoz Sprint (Meydan).

Flemington's Straight Six has recently been recognised as the home of the World's Best sprint races in the world

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