LIVE: One of the greatest days of the racing calendar has arrived: Derby Day at Flemington, heralding the start of the four-day Melbourne Cup carnival.
There are three Group 1s, headlined by Australia’s oldest feature race, the $2 million Victoria Derby (2500m for three-year-olds). In fact, all nine Victoria Derby Day races hold Group Status, the only meeting in Australia where that is the case.
The Group 3 Lexus Archer Stakes was second on the schedule – with the winner traditionally earning a place in the 24-horse Melbourne Cup on Tuesday.
But Chris Waller-trained Surefire, the firm favourite, had not been nominated for the great race, meaning it was ineligible to compete come Tuesday.
Surefire duly won the 2500m run, after six horses were scratched on Saturday morning and two were ruled out on Friday, leaving some to wonder whether it should have been given a chance in the Melbourne Cup.
But foreman Joe Taylor said: “He’s a horse that’s been here a while. And as we’ve seen he just keeps progressing every progression. As you say, he could still be 12 months away.”
Instead, Serpentine earned a spot in the field by finishing second. Nick Williams indicated Serpentine would take his spot with jockey John Allen to ride.
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One of the biggest names to be scratched was Realm of Flowers trained by Freedman Racing, who looked a strong chance at least year’s Melbourne Cup before falling ill.
The mare was already likely to scrape into one of the final spots in the Cup without needing to win today, so co-trainer Sam Freedman revealed to Racing.com: “We’re taking a bit of a risk … we wanted to take the punt. She’s very effective off this sort of a break. She’s showed that in the past, she seems to be flying along at home. We had to take the risk, hopefully it pays off.”
“We wanted to give her that break into the Cup (but) she would have been extremely hard to beat today.”
75,000 fans are expected to hit Flemington for the big day. The track was rated a Soft 7 on Saturday morning after 3.6mm of rain fell in the prior 24 hours. Minimal rain is expected today.
Follow all the action in our live blog below!
ULTIMATE GUIDE: Everything you need to know ahead of the Melborne Cup
SATURDAY: Form guide and tips for Derby Day and the Golden Eagle
WHEN’S IT ON?
Saturday. First race 12.20pm (AEDT), Lexus Archer Stakes at 1pm, Derby at 4.20pm, last race 5.40pm.
WHERE CAN YOU WATCH IT?
Channel 10 will show it, but it’s also on Racing.com and Sky Channel.
Anamoe wins the Cox Plate | 00:27
1: Network 10 Carbine Club Stakes
12:20pm 1600 3yo-g3
2: Lexus Archer Stakes
1:00pm 2500 group3
3: Paramount+ Rising Fast Stakes
1:40pm 1200 group3
4: Racing and Sports Wakeful Stakes
2:20pm 2000 3f- g2
5: TAB Linlithgow stakes
3:00pm 1400 group2
6: Coolmore Stud stakes
3:40pm 1200 3yo-g1
7: Penfolds Victoria Derby
4:20pm 2500 3yo-g1
8: TAB Empire Rose stakes
5:00pm 1600 fm-g1
9: Furphy Sprint
5:40pm 1100 ms-g3
Over 70,000 fans expected for Derby Day | 01:47
Follow the action live in our blog below! If you can’t see the blog, click here.