We like to Derby ... we like to Penfolds Victoria Derby Day
Penfolds Victoria Derby Day signals return of major events in Melbourne
Today, the iconic Melbourne Cup Carnival kicked off the return of major events in Victoria with Penfolds Victoria Derby Day and more than 5000 race goers on track at Flemington Racecourse to watch the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Hitotsu, ridden by John Allen, win the $2 million Group 1 Penfolds Victoria Derby (2500m), Australia’s oldest classic race with a history dating back to 1855.
The winning owners of Hitotsu had a further 160,000 reasons to smile, taking home a barrel of Penfolds Magill Cellar 3 from Penfolds valued at $160,000.
Penfolds Victoria Derby Day is renowned as Australia's pre-eminent meeting for racing purists and it didn’t disappoint.
Earlier in the day, Colette won the Group 1 TAB Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) for fillies and mares, becoming the first mare to land a $1 million bonus on top of the $600,000 first prize. The bonus, offered for the first time in 2021, was on offer to the winners of 12 fillies and mares races across Australia and New Zealand if they could also land the country’s best race for females.
Colette was superbly ridden by Damien Oliver, who then made it a double in the Group 1 Kennedy Cantala (1600m) with a needle-threading ride on Perth-owned Superstorm for Flemington trainer Danny O’Brien. With his brace, Oliver surpassed the legendary Bobbie Lewis as the most successful Group 1-winning rider over the Melbourne Cup Carnival with 25 victories. He also rode in his 700th Melbourne Cup Carnival race earlier in the card.
The Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m), widely recognised as a crucial race on the resume of any potential stallion, belonged to the hugely impressive Home Affairs in the navy blue colours of sponsor Coolmore Stud. James McDonald kicked clear on the I Am Invincible colt, with the Flemington win ensuring that the Chris Waller-trained three-year-old is now one of the most valuable horses in the country.
It was one of four wins on Penfolds Victoria Derby Day for McDonald and three for Waller, with one of Australia’s most potent jockey-trainer combinations bringing their magic to Flemington.
Connections of the Waller-trained Great House, Highclere Thoroughbred Racing Australia, were celebrating following the stayer’s win in the Group 3 Lexus Hotham Stakes (2500m), cementing his place in Tuesday’s $8 million Lexus Melbourne Cup.
Following Penfolds Victoria Derby Day, James McDonald leads the Ron Hutchinson Award for jockeys during Melbourne Cup Carnival with 15 points, while Flemington trainer James Cummings leads the trainers’ award named after his grandfather, the JB Cummings Award, on 12 points.
Victoria Racing Club Chief Executive Officer, Steve Rosich, said the club welcomed the opportunity to have racegoers back at Flemington.
“It was great to be able to welcome racegoers including our valued VRC members back on track to watch an exceptional day of racing and enjoy our world-renowned hospitality, entertainment, fashion and fun,” Mr Rosich said.
“Whilst there was limited capacity permitted on-course, we are so grateful to get crowds back at Flemington and we have shown that you can have fans at major sporting events and it can be done safely.
“The atmosphere of Australia’s original major event, the Melbourne Cup Carnival, is greatly enhanced by crowds and we’re delighted to be able to welcome even more racegoers for the rest of Cup Week.
“The scene is now set for an exciting 161st running of the Lexus Melbourne Cup on Tuesday with the announcement of 24-horse strong field today. Australia’s rising star Incentivise is set to tackle the best in Australia and the world, including last year’s Lexus Melbourne Cup winner Twilight Payment and nine-time Group 1-winning heroine Verry Elleegant.”
Under the VRC's COVID-safe plan, racegoers were split into three different spectator zones, green (general admission and VRC members), pink (sponsors, VRC members and general admission) and purple (VRC members).
The Garden Stage in the pink zone came alive as ARIA award winning chart-toppers The Living End kicked off the epic entertainment lineup when they performed their hit single White Noise live in front of racegoers.
To celebrate Penfolds first year as naming rights sponsor of Victoria Derby Day, the VRC hosted a number of its ambassadors at a morning brunch, with VRC Ambassador Crystal Kimber, Melbourne Cup Carnival Ambassador Diana Chan and Myer Fashions on your Front Lawn Ambassadors Tayla Damir and Tim Kano all donning the traditional black and white Derby Day attire and enjoying a glass of both Penfolds Bin 28 Shiraz and the newly released Penfolds Max’s Rose.
Myer Fashions on your Front Lawn® state and territory finalists have been selected for the National Women’s and Men’s Racewear Competitions but race-goers attending Flemington today had the opportunity to be selected to go through to the national final via a new wildcard on-course component which will continue on Lexus Melbourne Cup Day.
Dedicated style spotters selected and photographed attendees with judges choosing one male and one female wildcard winner who will gain direct entry into the national final held on Kennedy Oaks Day on Thursday 4 November.
To round out the iconic competition, three Just For Fun categories - Family Ties, Cup Week Costumes and Cup Week Casual – will allow everyone to revel in the joyful spirit of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, with entries open now until Paramount+ Stakes Day on Saturday 6 November.
The Victoria Racing Club now looks to Lexus Melbourne Cup Day on Tuesday 2 November with up to 10,000 patrons approved to attend Flemington Racecourse in line with the State Government’s plans for the safe reopening of events across Victoria.
Tickets for Lexus Melbourne Cup Day, Kennedy Oaks Day and Paramount+ Stakes Day are still available for members and the general public via Ticketek.