The Bendigo Cup is a must-attend race day for anyone looking to experience the best of Victorian country racing.
Attracting more than 10,000 punters and racegoers every year, the Bendigo Cup brings a carnival atmosphere to the entire Western District in late October. With a public holiday granted across the Bendigo region for the day, Bendigo comes alive on Cup Day to celebrate the running of the biggest local horserace. It truly is a highlight of Bendigo’s social calendar.
The Bendigo Cup 2014 is definitely a great way to spend a day; you can catch up with family and friends while getting a taste of what country racing is all about.
What is the Bendigo Cup?
An open handicap horserace that is considered part of the Melbourne Spring Racing carnival, the Bendigo Cup always takes place midweek, in late October, at the Epsom Racecourse in Bendigo. Over the years, it has become an important preview to the Melbourne Cup itself.
Winners of the 2,400-metre race take home $200,000 worth of prize money. The title has gone to some big name horses and trainers in years gone by, including Sertorious in 2013, Puissance De Lune in 2012, Tanby in 201, and Dream Pedlar in 2010.
This year, the Bendigo Cup will be held on Wednesday 29 October 2014.
The Bendigo Racecourse is a wonderfully picturesque setting for the race, with its golden roses in full bloom, a sea of marquees, and its historic grandstands set against the backdrop of the native forest that surrounds the racecourse.
The Silks Function Room is housed inside the grandstands, which gives punters prime views of the 1,995-metre long course for an up close experience when the horse come barrelling down the 400-metre long straight.
The Fashions on the Field competition is held every year, with oodles of prizes on offer. There is even a dedicated enclosure for younger racegoers, a number of live music performers, and plenty of corporate entertainment packages on offer.
The History of the Bendigo Cup
The Bendigo Cup has a long, rich heritage. The Bendigo Jockey Club was established in 1854, with the population of Bendigo rapidly expanding due to the local gold rush. The first major horserace in Bendigo was held in 1868, called the Sandhurst Cup. The winning horse was Old England.
In 1873, the Bendigo Jockey Club decided to change the track to left hand running (instead of right hand as it had been since it was established). This required the replacement of the grandstand, which had, of course, been constructed on the opposite side of the track. Completed in November 1902, the new grandstand is the same structure that you can see at the racecourse today.
Throughout World War One and World War Two, the Bendigo Racecourse was used as an army training facility and headquarters, occupied by troops during both wars, with all racing suspended.
Up until 2008, the Bendigo Cup was held in November, a couple of weeks after the Melbourne Spring Racing carnival had concluded. It was not until 2009 that the race meet was moved to the Wednesday prior to the Melbourne Cup, serving as a precursor to Victoria’s premier racing event.
With the date change from mid November to late October, the race was also changed to a 2,400-metre distance (from 2,200-metre) to make it a more attractive proposition for horses and trainers looking to qualify for the Melbourne Cup, and the Ballart Cup, which is held in mid-November.
Tips for a Fun-Filled Bendigo Cup 2014
If you’re not a seasoned racegoer, we suggest taking a look at some of our tips to ensure that your Bendigo Cup is fun-filled (and not fraught with disaster).
Be Sun Smart
If you’re out in the sun all day long, you need to make sure that you are looking after yourself, particularly if you’re consuming alcohol. We suggest:
- Drinking plenty of water.
- Wearing sunscreen, and reapplying your sunscreen regularly throughout the day.
- Wearing a hat to shade you from the sun’s rays, and, being a racing carnival, you have the perfect excuse to work a hat into your outfit.
Be Sensible With Your Outfit Choices
While the Spring Racing Carnival can be an opportunity to try a new, fashion-forward look, make sure to be sensible about your outfit choices:
- Don’t wear shoes that haven’t been worn in yet (or, if you do, make sure you’re carrying plenty of Band-Aids).
- Don’t wear heels that are too high (or, if you do, make sure you have a pair of thongs or little slip-ons to wear at the end of the day when your feet are throbbing).
- Consider wearing a wedge heel, particularly if it’s raining; the stiletto heel won’t sink into the grass, and they’re much more comfortable.
- Remember that you’re attending the races, not a nightclub, so there’s no need to flash too much flesh.
While the Bendigo Cup is a great opportunity to catch up with friends and family, drinking too much can turn a fun day out into a disaster. So make sure to:
- Drink plenty of water.
- Eat a big breakfast before you get to the racecourse.
- Graze on food all day (perhaps even take a picnic basket full of snacks with you).
Getting to the Bendigo Cup
Decide early how you’re going to get to the Bendigo Cup, and remember not to drive if you plan to drink. There are a number of ways to get to the Bendigo Cup:
- Bus: a dedicated bus service runs direct to the Bendigo Racecourse on race day, with just a gold coin donation required.
- Train: if travelling by train, you will need to alight at the Mitchell Street train station, where taxis and buses are usually available.
- Car: if you do decide to drive, once in the suburb of White Hills, just make a right turn at Heinz Street. The racecourse is located on the right-hand side of the road.
- Walk: if you are staying at the Allara Motor Lodge, the Bendigo Racecourse is located within walking distance.
Accommodation for the Bendigo Cup
Accommodation in and around Bendigo always fills up quickly at Bendigo Cup time. So, make sure that you get in early and book your Bendigo Cup accommodation today. The Allara Motor Lodge is located within walking distance of the Bendigo Racecourse, making it the ideal destination for your Bendigo Cup stay.
All the Details for the 2014 Bendigo Cup
- When: Wednesday 29 October 2014
- Where: Bendigo Racecourse, Heinz Street, White Hills, Bendigo, VIC 3550
- Time: Gates open at 10.30am
- Cost: $25 for General Admission; Children under 16 are free
- Website: www.countryracing.com.au/jayco-bendigo-cup.html
- Accommodation: Contact Bendigo’s Allara Motor Lodge