Caulfield racecourse is situated just eight kilometres from Melbourne's centre
and is one of four tracks in its metropolitan surrounds. As one of Australia's
most historic courses, the first race was held at the track back in 1859 when
jockeys were required to ride through bush, heath and sand hills, leading to
it's nickname as 'The Heath'.
Caulfield is the premier track amongst the two metropolitan tracks that the
Melbourne Racing Club (MRC) operates, the
other being Sandown racecourse. The MRC reconstructed Caulfield on two occasions
in recent times.
In 1995 the course was closed for 5 months to allow for works that involved
widening the track by 30 metres around the entire course, and increasing the
length of the straight by 43 metres. Cambers were also added to the turns with
gradients varying from 2% - 4%.
In 2005 further works were carried out to relay a new surface across the entire
circuit, closing the course for two months.
The pinnacle of Caulfield's racing calendar occurs during the Spring Carnival
when the track hosts three days of quality racing including the Caulfield
Guineas Day, Thousand Guineas Day and finishing with
the now world famous Caulfield Cup Day.
The track has three straights on each side of it's triangular shape. It's total
circumference is 2080 metres and the home straight is 367 metres long. One of
the interesting characteristics about the course is that horses don't tend to
fan on the final turn into the straight, reducing the opportunities for splits
between horses, increasing the difficulty for inside positions back from the
leaders. The track has sufficient width to give genuine backmarkers enough room
to pull wide and get a clear run for home.
Barriers tend to have less of an impact over 1000m - 1200m as the course begins
along the side straight that they jump onto giving runners about 350 to 500 metres of
straight running before entering the only turn that leads them into the home
The barriers for the 1400m course, however, open up right at the beginning
of a sharp turn. Runners are then met with a short 300m straight down the side
of the track, before they are turning again into the home straight. Runners
in outside barriers are required to either do a lot of work early to limit the
extra distance they run on the course, pull back and hope for a trail into the
straight or sit wide for the run. Statistics between 2008 - 2016 have supported
this theory with barriers 1 to 7 having almost a 70% strike rate.
The major races at Caulfield across the calendar year include:
- CF Orr Stakes Group 1 WFA - 1400m
- Blue Diamond Stakes Group 1 for 2yo set weights - 1200m
- Futurity Stakes Group 1 WFA - 1400m
- Oakleigh Plate Group 1 Open Handicap - 1100m
- Memsie Stakes Group 1 WFA - 1400m
- Underwood Stakes Group 1 WFA - 1800m
- Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes Group 1 WFA - 1400m
- Caulfield Guineas - Group 1 for 3yo set weights - 1600m
- Thousand Guineas - Group 1 for 3yo fillies set weights
- Caulfield Stakes - Group 1 WFA - 2000m
- Toorak Handicap - Group 1 WFA
- Caulfield Cup - Group 1 Open Handicap - 2400m