Stars set to shine on TAB Champions Stakes Day

10 November 2023 Written by VRC

Australia’s greatest horses will tackle some of the best thoroughbreds from around the world at Flemington Racecourse when the Melbourne Cup Carnival concludes in an epic way with TAB Champions Stakes Day.

Australia’s greatest horses will tackle some of the best thoroughbreds from around the world at Flemington Racecourse tomorrow when the Melbourne Cup Carnival concludes in an epic way with TAB Champions Stakes Day.

 TAB Champions Stakes Day is the last day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, which has so far seen more than 204,000 people through the famous Flemington gates with approximately 60,000 people expected tomorrow (Saturday).

The race 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 carnival. Quality fields have been assembled in each feature with Australasia’s best horse’s on show at three traditional distances - 1200m, 1600m and 2000m.

The Melbourne Cup Carnival’s most successful jockey of all time Damien Oliver will be chasing a fairy-tale farewell to Flemington, with chances in the three Group 1 races. Oliver has six rides on TAB Champions Day including in each of the three Group 1 races – Lofty Strike (Darley Champions Sprint), The Inevitable (Kennedy Champions Mile) and Duais (TAB Champions Stakes). There will be a special presentation for Oliver in the Mounting Yard following the last race of the day.

The Victoria Racing Club will join forces with the Returned Services League of Australia (RSL Victoria) for Remembrance Day, which coincides with the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

The gates at Flemington Racecourse will open at 10:30am, with a Remembrance Day Commemorative Service held in the Mounting Yard at 10:53am. The service will feature a bugler sounding the Last Post, a minute of silence at 11:00am and a recitation of the Ode of Remembrance by RSL Victoria’s Fundraising Manager and Vietnam Veteran Peter Smith OAM.

Racegoers will be encouraged to contribute to the Annual Poppy Appeal by purchasing a red poppy lapel pin from on-course RSL Victoria volunteers, with the poppy set to replace the traditional red rose as the official flower for the race day. Prices for the poppies range from $2 to $50 and all proceeds will help the RSL to provide life-changing support for our veterans and their families.

In recognition of their service, free General Admission entry will also be offered for all past and current service men and women with approved ID.

On the track, the $3 million Group 1 TAB Champions Stakes (2000m) sees the remarkable Zaaki attempting to make it three consecutive victories in the contest - a feat only achieved once, by one of Australia’s greatest mares Wakeful in 1901, 1902 and 1903.

The Annabel Neasham-trained globetrotter faces Britain’s West Wind Blows, who has been second in two Australian starts for Simon and Ed Crisford, as well as Ireland’s Buckaroo for Lexus Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Joseph O’Brien.

Four of the best middle-distance mares from either side of the Tasman are also set to start, with Montefilia, Duais, Atishu and Prowess, boasting 10 Group 1 wins between them, to tackle the boys.

The $3 million Group 1 Kennedy Champions Mile (1600m) will feature a thrilling rematch between two of Australia’s most popular horses.

The Gai Waterhouse AO and Adrian Bott-trained Alligator Blood, looking for back-to-back wins in the feature and chasing a remarkable eighth Group 1 win, tackles the Ben, Will and JD Hayes-prepared Mr Brightside, winner of the Group 1 PFD Food Services Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at the course and distance in September. The pair have met 10 times with the ledger evenly matched at five apiece.

It is not merely a two-horse battle, though, with top-class mare Fangirl, Group 1 TAB Empire Rose Stakes victor Pride Of Jenni, Breeders’ Cup winner Victoria Road, Tasmanian veteran The Inevitable and the hardy Bankers Choice also lining up.

The $3 million Group 1 Darley Champions Sprint (1200m) will see the world’s leading Group 1 winner of 2023, Imperatriz, look to add to her remarkable record. A winner of five top-flight races this year - two in New Zealand and three in Australia - she sits one ahead of Irish star three-year-olds Paddington and Auguste Rodin and Chilean superstar Kay Army as the world’s most prolific victor at the highest level since January 1.

Victory at Flemington will cement her champion status, but some of the fastest horses around will be attempting to stop her in her tracks, including Group 1 Yulong Stud Newmarket Handicap (1200m) quinella In Secret and Lofty Strike, course and distance specialist Star Patrol and airborne mares Bella Nipotina and Asfoora.

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 greatest race week in Australia will conclude with a flourish on and off the track. Spice Girl Melanie C, known to a generation as Sporty Spice, takes to the stage at Palooza, Flemington’s newest festival-inspired entertainment offering, bringing her DJ set straight from Glastonbury and Ibiza to Melbourne.

The world-famous Birdcage Enclosure will play host to a roster of champions including Melbourne Cup Carnival Ambassador and Australian Diamonds Netball Team Captain Liz Watson, Geelong great Tom Hawkins and his wife Emma Hawkins, Collingwood premiership player Isaac Quaynor,  Olympian Peter Bol, Melbourne Storm star Ryan Papenhuyzen, VRC Ambassador and Paralypian Emma Booth, AFLW stars Sarah Hosking, Jess Hosking, Grace Egan and Eilish Sheerin for the VRC,  actor  Rachel Griffiths and social personality Ruby Brownless for Lexus, social personality Annalise Dalins and AFL Player Josh Daicos with G.H Mumm, Australian cricket great Glenn McGrath and Australian Diamonds Netballer Jo Weston for TAB, and AFL players Ivan Soldo, Ned Reeves, Jai Newcombe and Harrison Petty for Schweppes.

The Fashion Garden in The Park transforms into The Magical Garden delivering style, fun and entertainment for families and children. Magical entertainment sure to delight young ones will include lawn games, stage shows, arts and crafts, face painters, a silent disco, plus an enchanting Butterfly Enclosure. Fashion will continue to be a centerpiece within The Park and a style squad will be out and about surprising some of the best dressed and most stylish families with special family friendly prizes.  

The Park Live Stage has been home to some of the world’s biggest acts this week and tomorrow’s lineup features Australian DJs Timmy Trumpet and Mell Hall bringing the party to to a close.

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 Victoria Racing Club’s Pin & Win campaign has raised more than $7.4 million for charities over almost 30 years and this year pins are being sold across the course for charity partner, Australian Childhood Foundation.

The commemorative pins cost $7 for the Cup pin and $12 for the diamante horseshoe, with all purchasers eligible to enter the draw before 4pm on Saturday 11 November to win over $188,000 worth of prizes including a brand new 2023 Lexus RX350h 2WD. The draw will take place at 5:00pm and the winners will be announced in the Mounting Yard at 6:05pm. Pin & Win Ambassadors Lorinska Merrington and Rachel Watts will be on-course to promote the campaign.

Tickets for TAB Champions Stakes Day, featuring three $3 million championship Group 1 races to close out the 2023 Melbourne Cup Carnival, are still available for members and the general public.