Stars of racing set to shine on TAB Champions Stakes Day

4 November 2022 Written by VRC

Australia’s newest championship race day, TAB Champions Stakes Day, is set to bring down the curtain on a glorious Melbourne Cup Carnival when the best racehorses in the country including Nature Strip and Anamoe converge on Flemington Racecourse.

The Racing

TAB Champions Stakes Day brings together three $3 million Group 1 races, each with a storied history dating back decades, and places them at the forefront of Australia’s premier racing festival.

The result is a series of championship contests, with each race set to determine Australasia’s best horse at each of three traditional distances - 1200m, 1600m and 2000m. It is a fitting conclusion to the Melbourne Cup Carnival, with the three races the final Group 1 contests to take place in Victoria each year.

The $3 million Group 1 TAB Champions Stakes (2000m) sees Australia’s best middle-distance performer Anamoe - a $1.95 favourite with TAB - making his Flemington raceday debut, even though the James Cummings runner is trained at Headquarters.

A winner of seven Group 1 races and the first horse in 20 years to win at the highest level at two, three and four, he comes off an unbeaten spring that saw him emerge victorious last time out in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m).

He faces a rematch with Cox Plate rivals I’m Thunderstruck, Zaaki, Mo’unga and Maximal but the addition of Group 1-winning mares Hinged and Mustang Valley as well as three-year-olds Elliptical and Mr Maestro ensures that it will be a race for the ages. 

The $3 million Group 1 Kennedy Champions Mile (1600m) will be run at weight-for-age this year, having previously been a quality handicap.

Dual Group 1 winner Cascadian tackles this race for the fourth time, having been beaten no further than a neck without winning in three previous attempts when third (2019), second (2020) and third (2021). 

He is one of seven Group 1 victors in a race brimming with quality, with the popular Alligator Blood joined by TAB favourite Private Eye, emerging import My Oberon and recent big-race winners Mr Brightside and Tuvalu.

The $3 million Group 1 Darley Champions Sprint (1200m) is set to be one of the world’s best sprint races in 2022.

Two-time Australian Racehorse of the Year Nature Strip will be out to cap off his incredible 2022, which included victory at Royal Ascot in the UK in June, by becoming the first horse to win the Darley Champions Sprint on three occasions.

It will not be an easy assignment for the $20 million earner, though, as he faces his last-start conqueror Giga Kick and six Group 1 winners from both sides of the Tasman.

They include New Zealand mares Levante and Roch ‘n’ Horse, the latter the winner of the Group 1 Yulong Stud Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at the course and distance in March, as well as Queensland’s fan favourite Rothfire and runaway Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) winner Bella Nipotina.

The final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival also features the $300,000 Group 3 Queen’s Cup (2600m), run for the 71st and final time tomorrow.

Initially established as the King's Cup at Flemington in 1927, with a trophy provided by King George V, the contest has been run as the Queen's Cup since Queen Elizabeth II’s accession in 1952.

Each season, by royal request, the Queen's Cup is run at a different racecourse in a different state. Traditionally, it has taken over from a similar race on the programme, such as the Queen Elizabeth Stakes - the 2600m race that the Queen’s Cup replaces in 2022.

In 2023, the TAB Champions Stakes Day race will be run again as the Queen Elizabeth Stakes - named in recognition of the late sovereign’s first visit to Flemington Racecourse in 1954 - while the Queen’s Cup will switch back to the King’s Cup when it heads interstate next season.

Other stakes races include the $300,000 Group 2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) for mares and the $175,000 The Amanda Elliott (1400m) for three-year-olds.

All up, an exceptional 23 Group 1 winners are set to line up in front of tens of thousands of racegoers on TAB Champions Stakes Day.

The Fashion

Off the track Myer Fashions on the Field continues in The Park with the return of the ever popular Family Competition and introduction of a new category, the Alpha Edit for racegoers aged 14 - 18. Registrations open at 11:10am and close at 12:40pm for both categories.  The final of the Family Competition will be hosted at 2:00pm and the Alpha Edit final at 3:00pm.  Prizes include Myer gift cards and TCL TV packages.    

Judges will include Melbourne Cup Carnival Ambassadors Tom and Emma Hawkins and Demi Brereton, Tim and Leanne from Gogglebox and fashion and lifestyle influencer Jess Dempsey.  

The Birdcage

The Birdcage Enclosure will play host to an array of celebrities including Melbourne Cup Carnival Ambassadors Tom and Emma Hawkins and reigning Brownlow medallist Patrick Cripps in Villa Paradiso, AFL footballer Josh Dunkley in TAB, siblings Brooke and Jackson Warne in Lexus and The Project’s Peter Helliar in Paramount.

The Park

The Melbourne Cup Carnival party continues in The Park, the ultimate destination for general admission racegoers with the precinct bringing together the best in fashion, food, fun and entertainment.

The Park Live Stage will host an amazing line-up, headlined by Australian rock royalty Birds Of Tokyo (5:30pm-6:30pm) who will close out Cup Week with a bang. Before they take to the stage, all racegoers can enjoy one of electronic music’s most exciting acts Teddy Cream (2:50pm-3:50pm) and leading house act Crooked Colours (4:10pm-5:10pm). 

Melbourne’s favourite foodie hotspots are also represented in The Park, including tasty Mexican street food from Dos Amigos, Asian fusion delights at Hochi Mama and delectable burgers from Goldie Boy Co. Step back in time by heading to The Pony Bar and Motel, straight out of the 1960s, enjoy an ice cold Furphy at the Furphy Beer Garden or freshen up by testing out the Smirnoff Seltzer Springs.

The Community

The Melbourne Cup Carnival’s Pin & Win campaign has raised nearly $7 million for charities so far and this year pins are being sold across the course for new charity partner, Australian Childhood Foundation. The commemorative pins cost $5 for the Cup pin and $10 for the diamante horseshoe, with all purchasers eligible to enter the draw to win over $130,000 worth of prizes including a brand new 2022 Lexus NX 350h 2WD F Sport Hybrid. The draw will take place at Flemington at 5.30pm and the winners announced shortly after.

This year the Melbourne Cup Carnival is also partnering with GIVIT to support the many flood-impacted people and communities around Australia. Throughout Cup Week, racing fans can donate via the dedicated GIVIT website.