Five Victorian race meets that are more fun than Flemington
Picnic racing is the new spring carnival so giddy up for these relaxed country race days.
Forget Flemington and Moonee Valley. Victorian horse racing offers more than the glitzy spring carnival. For earthier pleasures, go bush.
Picnic racing features our slowest horses competing on ancient and obscure tracks, but it is intimate, laid-back and unpretentious. You can bring your own food and drink and the marquees are tents. Airs and graces are optional.
A day at a picnic bush meeting is a great way to get to know a country region, and you don’t have to be a hardened punter to get an insider’s access to the local community.
Your race book is sold by a local retirement village. Your beer and hamburgers are served by CFA volunteers or the netball and football club, raising money for schools and hospitals. Fancier offerings – everything from wine and cheese to art – are showcased by local producers.
Member’s enclosures are rare; it’s first in, best dressed for choice slots under the shadiest trees. And often your neighbours under those trees will be families repeating an annual ritual going back generations – many of these tracks have been racing since the 1860s.
Each picnic meeting is a mini-festival of the surrounding region, a laid-back celebration of its resilience and kid-friendly bonhomie.