Penfolds Victoria Derby Day to kick start a magical Melbourne Cup Carnival

4 November 2023 Written by VRC

The Melbourne Cup Carnival will kick off in a magical fashion this Saturday on Penfolds Victoria Derby Day, with more than 70,000 people expected to flock through the gates of Flemington tomorrow.

A drawcard for racing and sports enthusiasts across the world, day one of the Melbourne Cup Carnival will feature three fantastic Group 1 races headlined by Australia’s oldest classic, the $2 million Penfolds Victoria Derby (2500m)

Champion trainer Chris Waller will be looking to defend his title in the feature, saddling up the well-fancied Riff Rocket, winner of the Listed ABC Bullion Super Impose Stakes (1800m) at Headquarters last month.

However, standing in his way is another Flemington-based horse in Apulia, the winner of last weekend’s Group 2 Moonee Valley Vase (2040m). He will aim to give brothers Ben, Will and JD Hayes a first Derby success, adding to the successes of their father David (two victories), late uncle Peter (one) and legendary grandfather Colin (four).

Sponsored by Australian premium winemaker Penfolds, winning connections will take home a barrel of Penfolds Magill Cellar 3 valued at $160,000. 

The nine-race card also features the $2 million Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m), which is shaping up to be one of the headline clashes of the spring with star three-year-olds Shinzo, Veight and Steparty set to light up the Flemington straight. A quality group of fillies and mares will contest the $1 million Group 1 TAB Empire Rose Stakes (1600m). 

In his final Cup Week, three-time Lexus Melbourne Cup winning jockey Damien Oliver will be trying to win the race named in his honour, the $500,000 Group 2 Damien Oliver, aboard the James Cummings-trained Vilana.

The world-famous Birdcage Enclosure will play host to a who’s who of entertainment, sport, business and media including supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio, Kate Waterhouse and TV personality Melissa Leong for Lexus, Buddy and Jesinta Franklin, Emma and Tom Hawkins and Erin Holland for Penfolds, models Jessica Gomes and Bambi Northwood-Blyth for G.H. Mumm, Michael Clarke for TAB, Bec Judd for Crown, Tess Shanahan, Toby Greene and Mason Cox for Schweppes plus Melbourne Cup Carnival Ambassadors including Gemma Owen, Count Nikolai of Monpezat, Georgina Burke, Christian Wilkins and Demi Brereton.  

The Melbourne Cup Carnival Fashions on the Field competition kicks off in The Park with the Best Dressed and Best Suited registrations open to all racegoers between 11:15am and 12:15pm  

The competition officially commences at 12:25pm with the Best Dressed and Best Suited promenades giving every entrant the opportunity to showcase their outfit. The Daily Finals take place throughout the afternoon with three winners from each category going through to the grand final on Kennedy Oaks Day.  The design and creative led category, the Emerging Designer Award, will also be judged with the overall winner announced at 2:10pm.  

Melbourne Cup Carnival Fashions on the Field judges will include leading Australian Designers Rebecca Vallance, Effie Kats and Dom Bagnato, VRC Ambassador Crystal Kimber-Peters, Melbourne Cup Carnival Ambassadors Count Nikolai of Monpezat, Georgina Burke, Christian Wilkins and Demi Brereton and Melbourne Fashion Festival CEO Caroline Ralphsmith.  

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 Park Live Stage is where global headline artists will perform across Cup Week.  Tomorrow’s internationally renowned acts performing include British DJ and producer Joel Corry and Australian duo Client Liaison

The Victoria Racing Club’s Pin & Win campaign has raised more than $7.4 million for charities since it was introduced in 1995 and this year will see pins sold across the course for charity partner, Australian Childhood Foundation, a leading not-for-profit organisation supporting children to recover from the trauma of abuse and family violence 

The commemorative pins sell for $7 for the Lexus Melbourne 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. Pin & Win Ambassadors Olivia Molly Rogers, Rachel Watts, Lorinska Merrington and Stefan Dennis will all be on track to promote the campaign.

Back on the track, among the other features on the all-stakes card is the $300,000 Group 3 Lexus Archer  Stakes (2500m), which offers the fifth and final Golden Ticket into next Tuesday’s $8 million Group 1 Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m).

The Lexus Melbourne Cup Barrier Draw will be held from 6:00pm in the Flemington Mounting Yard. The official draw will be live streamed on 10 Play, and live at 6:30pm. 

Experience the Magic of the 2023 Melbourne Cup Carnival

Prepare for a truly unforgettable Cup Week, where equine athleticism meets Melbourne style in a spectacular showcase of thoroughbred excellence. Be there to experience the magic trackside as new champions etch their names into racing folklore. Tickets still available, don't miss out!.