Horse racing is a big deal in Sydney, Australia. The race track located in the western portion of the city is a big reason why, and we plan on telling you all about it. We are talking about Rosehill Gardens Racecourse, home of the world-renowned Golden Slipper Stakes.
The richest two-year-old Thoroughbred race on the planet is just one of the revered Group 1 events we’ll cover, and that’s after we illustrate a description of the course and the surrounding facilities. This will come after we introduce Rosehill Gardens, notably how and when it got started. The more you know about the foundation of the racecourse, the more you will be able to appreciate the history and tradition behind it.
Not a lot of convincing needs to be done to persuade you to take a trip to Sydney, as it’s one of the most spectacular cities in the entire world. Learning about Rosehill Gardens and the famous horse races will just give you another reason to want to make the trip.
If you are a local or have been to Rosehill Gardens, even better! Use this guide to jog your memory of how much fun there is to be had!
To understand how and why Rosehill Gardens was established, you have to get to know John Bennett, the former manager of theaters who is responsible for getting things started. After gaining much success and a large fortune bringing in the biggest names in theater to perform, he decided to switch gears.
In 1882, he headed the formation of the Rosehill Racing Club and launched the construction of the racecourse in the suburb of Granville. After spending just £12,000, the horse racing venue opened in 1885 and immediately was a hit. From the railway commissioner to the Mayor of Granville, all the important faces in town showed up to see the horses in action.
Bennett quickly realized he needed to make the route from the center of Sydney to the racecourse easier and more accessible. This led to the opening of an exclusive railway line in 1888 that would get passengers to the course much more efficiently. If Randwick Racecourse in the middle of Sydney didn’t have a rival race track before, it certainly had one now.
Fast forward to today, and the Australian Turf Club and the state government have put an extraordinary amount of care and attention to detail into the property. , propelling Rosehill Gardens into the upper echelon of horse racing venues.
Australian Turf Club chief executive officer Darren Pearce had this to say to the dailytelegraph.com.
It is clear that the authorities in charge are doing everything they can to put Rosehill Gardens on the map as a can’t-miss landmark in Sydney. Pearce went on to say that they intend on the facilities playing host to a variety of major events in the future, not just horse races.
Allow us to dive into some of the unique characteristics of Rosehill Gardens. It wouldn’t be fair to say it’s one of the grandest racecourses in all the land without explaining why, so here we go!
The racecourse at Rosehill Gardens isn’t set up like every other horse track you have been to. To understand the layout, we have to try and paint a picture. The shape of the track resembles an elongated box or a stretched-out rectangle with rounded edges, if that makes any sense.
The entire course is comprised of grass, the outer track’s perimeter measures 2,048 meters in length, and it’s 20 meters wide at the finish line. If you have seen or heard about four other tracks at Rosehill Gardens, that’s because there are training courses as well.
There’s a grass track that is 1,538 meters long, plus a sand track that measures 1,712 meters. Then you have the fast and slow cinder tracks, which are 1,436 and 1,357 meters in length respectively. The rails and barriers on the tracks can be moved to adjust the starting positions, enabling Rosehill Gardens to be versatile enough to hold races of various lengths.
The design of the clockwise course lends itself to seeing Thoroughbreds stage late comebacks and win races in thrilling fashions. The 408-meter homestretch is the reason why, as the long straightaway provides a fair opportunity for those in the back to play “catch up.”
There is no doubt that the racecourse will be the site of some electric finishes in some of Australia’s biggest Thoroughbred races. As for where you can take in the action and what else is offered at Rosehill Gardens, just continue reading!
A day at the races at Rosehill Gardens means a day filled with unlimited fun and adventure. If the only thing going on was the Thoroughbreds galloping around the turf track, then we wouldn’t make such a comment. But the fact is, at Rosehill Gardens, there is a whole lot more for the racegoers to enjoy.
We’ll start with the food and drinks because the opportunities are close to endless. We are talking 25 restaurants that vary in cuisine and price, and that doesn’t even cover the bars and snack shops scattered throughout the enclosures.
J.R. Fleming Stand is where just about everything is located. Of course, if you are a member, you will be watching the races from the high-class Member’s Stand, which is connected to the betting ring. Thanks to the creation of “The Hive,” non-members can head to Rosehill and still have a one-of-a-kind experience.
The Hive, also called “the place to be,” is a massive space on the top level of the J.R. Fleming Grandstand creatively named for the “buzz” that is going on during race days at Rosehill Gardens. From the food, drinks, camaraderie, and enviable views, the hive is certainly worth checking out.
If you don’t mind spending a pretty penny and have a group of at least of 10 guests with you, you may want to consider renting out a box section in one of the open terraces. If you want a private experience with your own waiter, equipped with a flat-screen to help follow the action, the open boxes at the J.R. Fleming Grandstand are going to be the best option for you and your party.
Let’s say you are just by yourself or perhaps with a friend or significant other. Or let’s just say you aren’t in the mood to shell out the cash it requires for private seating. Not all is lost. Just mosey on over to the racecourse, purchase a ticket, and have a blast anyway!
We recommend grabbing your meal at the Ascot restaurant on the second floor of the grandstand. Not only does the menu offer some delectable food, but the scenery is unlike that of any other restaurant you have probably dined at.
You’ll immediately notice staggering glass windows that stretch from the floor to the ceiling, allowing the patrons to not miss a single stride in any of the races. There are no obstacles in the way, either.
We could continue elaborating on everything inside the grandstand and all the amenities offered, but by now you get the idea of how luxurious Rosehill Gardens is. It’s time to transition into the major races at Rosehill Gardens, specifically those of the Group 1 status.
The racing calendar at Rosehill Gardens is centered around two main series, the Autumn Carnival and the Spring Carnival. The Autumn Carnival includes the Golden Slipper Stakes Festival and is a major time in Australian Thoroughbred racing. We are talking three consecutive Saturdays in March/April that will consist of 18 Group races and more than $11 million in available prizes.
Rather than keep you hanging, let’s jump right into the most esteemed events at Rosehill Gardens. It makes sense to start with the most acclaimed of them of them all.
The third and final Saturday of the Autumn Carnival is centered around Rosehill Garden’s flagship event, the Golden Slipper Stakes. Inaugurated in 1957, this is the premier horse race for two-year-old Thoroughbreds, period. With a gigantic purse of $3.5 million, this is the most lucrative race for two-year-old horses anywhere in the world.
At 1,200 meters, we are talking about a sprint of about six furlongs. May the fastest horse win!
It hasn’t missed a beat since the legendary Todman won the first edition of the Golden Slipper Stakes by a whopping 8 lengths in 1957. After running as a Principal race through 1978, it was bumped all the way to a Group 1 event in 1979, where it has remained ever since.
Hall of Fame jockeys Shane Dye and Ron Quinton share the title for the most victories in the Golden Slipper Stakes with four apiece. The record for most wins by a trainer is shared by quite the interesting duo.
Tommy John (TJ) Smith was the first to train six winning horses at this event, only to be matched years later by none other than his own daughter, Gai Waterhouse. She equaled her father’s total when she won her sixth Golden Slipper Stakes in .
Perhaps the next biggest event at Rosehill Gardens Racecourse would be the Kia Tancred Stakes. After being called “The BMW” from 2002-2017, it was renamed the Kia Tancred Stakes in 2023. Also known as the H E Tancred Stakes, this Group 1 event during the Autumn Carnival is for Thoroughbreds who are at least three years of age.
With a handsome payout of $1.5 million to be divvied up amongst the top finishers, you can bet that Thoroughbred owners in Australia have the Kia Tancred Stakes circled on their calendars well in advance. At 2,400 meters, this race tests the endurance of even the most skilled and highly-trained horses.
The Principal race from its beginning in 1963 until 1979 was promoted to a Group 1 event in 1980. We’ve seen a pair of horses win the Kia Tancred Stakes back-to-back, although it was called the Mercedes Classic back when it occurred.
Octagonal was the first to accomplish the feat in 1996 and 1997 before Tie the Knot did the same in 1999 and 2000.
Ready for another seven-figure Thoroughbred event that’s part of the Autumn Carnival at Rosehill Gardens? The George Ryder Stakes is a 1,500-meter race that has a million bucks up for grabs. Like the aforementioned Kia Tancred Stakes, this event is designated for horses at least three years old. However, the George Ryder Stakes was first held well over 100 years ago in 1903.
It actually started out as a 6.5-furlong race (about 1,300 meters), before being upped to 7 furlongs in 1915. It lasted this way until 1973 when they officially switched to the metric system and raced exactly 1,400 meters. This wasn’t good enough, as the authorities pushed it back to 1,450 meters as a trial run in 1985. Finally, in 1986, the George Ryder Stakes was moved back to a 1,500-meter event.
We have seen several horses leave lasting imprints on the racecourse, although no horse had won this event three times until the superstar horse Winx came along. The Australian mare, trained by Chris Waller, won three in a row from 2016-2023. Her most recent victory in the 2023 George Ryder Stakes was remarkably her 24th consecutive race won, putting her atop the totem pole in Australian Thoroughbred racing.
While our string of million-dollar-plus Thoroughbred races at Rosehill Gardens may have come to a close, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few more prominent events to cover. The Ranvet Stakes is one of those races, and it’s also held on a Saturday during the Autumn Carnival at the western Sydney track.
Like the George Ryder Stakes, this event was created in 1903, although it was called the Rawson Stakes originally. Named after Sir Harry Holdsworth Rawson, the former governor of New South Wales, it continued on as the Rawson Stakes all the way through 1987, before being changed to the Segenhoe Stakes for three years. This event didn’t earn the Ranvet Stakes name until 1991.
The prize pool has varied, although it is always substantial. When Our Ivanhowe won in 2017, he collected a chunk of the $700,000 for his owners Phil M. Mehrten and Aziz “Ozzie” Kheir. The Ranvet Stakes started out as a 1,800-meter event and bounced between 1,800 and 2,000 meters until 2009. Ever since then, it has steadily been run as a 2,000-meter gallop around the turf at Rosehill Gardens.
Another Group 1 event traditionally held in late March, the Rosehill Guineas has been a fixture at Rosehill Gardens Racecourse since the first-ever edition in 1910. We can’t confirm how much was on the line back then, but we know that the 2023 Rosehill Guineas boasted an attractive $600,000 purse, which in turn attracts the best three-year-old Thoroughbreds to the track.
The first version of the race was 7 furlongs; then it was changed to 9 furlongs in 1915. By 1948, it was lengthened to 10 furlongs (about 1 ¼ miles). The final and current iteration of the Rosehill Guineas came in 1973 when it was changed to a 2,000-meter race, which is almost identical to the 10 furlongs.
Since it was upgraded from a Principal race to Group 1 Status in 1980, the fastest time recorded is actually a tie between the 1995 and 1996 winners, Danewin and Octagonal. Their official mark of 1:59.99 makes them the only two Thoroughbreds to finish the race in sub-two minutes.
Just because the Coolmore Classic is the last race in this guide doesn’t mean it’s the last race to pay attention to at Rosehill Gardens. There are actually 10 Group 1 events at the racecourse, giving spectators and bettors ample opportunities to get in on the festivities.
Rosehill Gardens added the 1,500-meter Coolmore Classic to the mix in 1973, and it’s a race intended for just the females. That’s right; only fillies and mares who have celebrated their third birthdays can compete in the TAD Kennedy Stakes, a title that the event is also referred to as.
Interestingly enough, it has actually had eight different names since starting out as the Fillies and Mares Classic. After being known as the Winfield Classic from 1992-1995, it was changed to the Coolmore Classic in 1996. Two years later, in 1998, was when fans at Rosehill Gardens witnessed the speediest time ever run at 1:27.21.
No lady horse has won this event more than once, although the same can’t be said for the jockeys. Jim Cassidy went on to win the Coolmore Classic on four separate occasions, the most of all time. His most recent triumph came in 2004 while riding Shamekha.
We will keep this section short, as it doesn’t take a brainchild to tell you that Sydney is an envious destination and one that should be considered as a vacation spot for anyone reading this guide. You’ve probably already heard all about attractions such as the Opera House and Darling Harbour, so we won’t go into detail about what to go see and how you get there.
Figuring out how to get to Sydney and what to do when you land is the easy part. Our job is to make sure you know how to get to Rosehill Gardens and what you need to know before you walk in.
The members have a fairly strict dress code, one the casual fan doesn’t need to abide by. The male members must wear a suit including a tie, while the ladies must wear their finest dresses. If you aren’t a member, you don’t have to wear your fanciest outfit, but at the same time, don’t show up in flip-flops and a tank. In fact, you won’t even be allowed in if you try wearing a silly costume or aren’t dressed to their liking.
As far as traveling to Rosehill Gardens goes, once you land at Sydney Airport, you are looking at about 25 km driving northwest to get to the racecourse. There is plenty of parking available at the course, but we suggest taking advantage of public transportation or ride-sharing platforms to avoid the mess.
Hopping on a train on the Carlingford line can drop you off at the Rosehill stop. As long as you can walk a few hundred meters to the entrance of the racecourse, you’ll be in fantastic shape. You can also utilize the Veolia Transport NSW which lets you off on Alfred Street. Another short stroll on foot, and voila – you will arrive at the racecourse!
Rosehill Gardens Racecourse in western Sydney is quite a property. If you made it this far down on the page, then you know most of the reasons why! The race track that was opened in 1885 is the home of some of Australia’s most well-known Group 1 races, including their marquee event, the Golden Slipper Stakes.
We covered the illustrious event, as well as revealed five more of the most notable races annually held at Rosehill Gardens. We described what the racecourse is like, as did we point out what going to the races would be like. The J.R. Fleming Grandstand has been upgraded to meet the needs and desires of racing fans of all shapes and sizes.
If you are seeking out a really cool atmosphere with some great food and drinks, not to mention the chance to have a great time and win some money, look no further.
You can on any changes or what race is on the horizon. If you are in Sydney or considering traveling there, don’t miss out!