Saturday, 25 November, is the 2023 Cranbourne Cup

Scott Mcglynn
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Saturday, 25 November, is the 2023 Cranbourne Cup

Flemington are eyeing Cranbourne's end-of-November Saturday Cranbourne Cup date for themselves for 2024 to extend their Spring Carnival.

News Insights

  • The 2023 Cranbourne Cup is worth $500,000
  • More than 8,000 people are expected through the gate
  • Flemington want to extend their own Carnival
  • How will Racing Victoria rule?

The Cranbourne Cup has moved recently to accommodate Caulfield, but now that date at the end of November is threatened by Flemington plans. The Melbourne track has requested a race date this Saturday, two weeks after their usual closing on Champions Day.

We all love a big Saturday meeting at the top tracks. There is little better than remembering that we were there on the day that a superstar was born. Away from there, it is just as special when country racing has its big day in the sun. Cranbourne is one of those tracks, especially at the end of November, where the 1600m Cranbourne Cup is waiting. 

Flemington looking to add

With attracting a new audience to the sport being so important, it is excellent that the proposal from Flemington aims to bring in a younger audience. Steve Rosich, who is the CEO of VRC, said that these plans have been in the works since way back in March, so it is not something that has not come out of nowhere. 

The Melbourne Cup Carnival this year was seen as a huge success, with a large young audience coming through the gate. Undoubtedly, being able to grow the sport within the next generation will be crucial. 

Doing that at one of the bigger tracks makes sense with a larger captive audience and the top facilities in the state. It would be a shame for that to be to the detriment of the sport at one of the grassroots courses. 

Neil Bainbridge is ready to fight

The CEO of the Cranbourne Racing Club has come out fighting in response to Flemington. They might have to do so again after moving the Cranbourne Cup so that it didn't clash with the Caulfield card featuring the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes and the Thousand Guineas.

Bainbridge pushed the importance of this meeting to the town of Casey and the surrounding area to get people involved in racing who might not have done so in the past. The stance from Cranbourne is clear - they want to keep the fixture exactly where it is rather than have to be forced to move it to a date they do not want to take.

Racing Victoria with a decision to make

The 2024/25 fixtures will not be released until April, so there is plenty of time for Racing Victoria to decide whether they allow Flemington the extra fixture at the expense of Cranbourne having to move their cup day. 

It is not going to be an easy decision for them. On the one hand, Flemington is the feature course of racing in Victoria, so they might expect what they want they get, and it would undoubtedly be easy to see it that way. 

Flemington and Cranbourne are pushing their respective fixtures as hugely important when building the sport to a new audience and getting people involved in racing. Whatever way Racing Victoria decides, they will make one of the two parties unhappy - as a sport, we have to hope that their choice is the right one for the sport. 

Extra racing at Flemington would be no bad thing in the grand scheme of things, but it would be disappointing if an extension of their Spring Carnival comes at the expense of Cranbourne's Cup Day having to change dates. Promoting the sport to a young audience is essential for the sport's longevity, but the bigger dates at the smaller tracks need to be looked after.