Love the buzz of a raceday, but feel you could do without the dress codes and the crowds? We feel you, which is why we’re saddling up for Relaxed Racing: a seven-week run of racedays across Victoria’s best tracks, where you’re encouraged to dress casual, bring the family, and enjoy a gourmet picnic on the lawn.
Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes Day
Best for: Meeting the future champions of the sport
Since its debut in 1971, the Blue Diamond Stakes has showcased group one thoroughbred races for two-year-old colts, fillies and geldings. The day is one of the most popular in the racing calendar, and with the addition of the sunny Summer Lawn, live music and V.I.Picnic hampers, is set to be even bigger this year. Caulfield Racecourse. 10.30am. $10-$20. Sat Feb 27.
Best for: Pairing world-class racing with the best of Victoria’s food, wine and beer
Picture this: you’re standing on the lush lawns of Flemington Racecourse, refreshing drink in hand, waiting for the moment when a group of thoroughbreds tear down the track in front of you. Amidst the action, you’re surrounded by gourmet food stalls as part of the Flemington Grazing and Trail Cellar Door, which forms part of the 2016 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. Could it get any better than this? Flemington Racecourse. $12-$25. Children under 16 free. Sat Mar 12.
Jack Hirsch Yarra Valley Cup
Best for: A road trip for the whole family
Feel like something a little more chilled out? Take a scenic drive to the pastoral surrounds of the Yarra Valley and get set for a day of top-quality local food, thoroughbred racing and live music. The day is also the perfect family outing, with a treasure hunt for the kids and prizes for the day's best costumes. The theme for the Cup is St Patrick’s Day, so be sure to wear green!Yarra Valley Racing. 11am. $10. Sun Mar 20.
Mornington BMW Cup Day
Best for: Saying goodbye to summer with a day at the peninsula
Summer may be over, but that doesn’t mean the good times are gone. The Mornington Racecourse boasts the famous Gunnamatta Restaurant, where dining tables line the glass grandstand, offering fantastic views of the track. Alternatively, head to the MRC Young Members’ area, where you’ll find live entertainment, a complimentary drink on arrival and door prizes. Mornington Racecourse. $12-$20. Children under 14 free. Sat Apr 2.
No day at the races would be complete without a civilised picnic or meal in a restaurant overlooking the track. Check out our pick of the Relaxed Racing food experiences.
Learn more about why Relaxed Racing – the most chilled-out part of the racing season – is also our favourite, and check out our not-to-miss racedays. For the full list of racedays in scenic locations across Victoria from February until April, visit the Relaxed Racing calendar of events.