20 February 2024

Join the party at Canberra's first ever million-dollar race day

| Morgan Kenyon
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three women wearing fascinators sipping champagne trackside at horse races

Following the success of the Canberra Community Chest race day last spring, Canberra Racing Club plans to double down on their efforts to make Thoroughbred Park ‘more than just a racing venue’ in 2024. Photo: Photox – Canberra Photography Services.

Thoroughbred Park kicks off its Autumn season on 10 March with the first $1 million race day in Canberra’s history for the 51st anniversary race day of the John McGrath Auto Group Black Opal Stakes.

Held on the Sunday of the Canberra Day long weekend, the Black Opal stakes is one of Canberra’s biggest race days.

Usually a two day racing carnival, this year, the event has been condensed into a Super Sunday festival event, with live music, local food and wine, and friendly competitions to take part in.

Following the success of the Canberra Community Chest race day last spring, organisers are keen to introduce the atmosphere of racing to new attendees with a range of entertainment options, including DJs and roving performers.

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Popular sports media organiser Invades are bringing their BOSH Races Day Party festival experience to Canberra all the way from the United Kingdom with TikTok sensation Big John to deliver electrifying DJ sets between and after the races.

This area will have an exclusive Red Bull bar, live music, activations and access to the general admission race day facilities.

Also making its debut on the day is the Black Opal Garden, offering a VIP experience in a trackside marquee.

This all-inclusive, fashion-driven party will be the place to be seen, mingle and connect.

A Garden package ticket includes racecourse entry, a five-hour premium beverage package, substantial canapes throughout the afternoon, private amenities and TAB facilities, up close and personal views of the track, and their very own racebook.

Marketing and sponsorships manager Robbie Ringland said the Thoroughbred Park and Canberra Racing Club teams were beyond excited in the lead-up.

“It’s the first time we’ve opened the Garden, but we are super excited for it to become a staple for one of our biggest races, bringing that little something extra to the park experience,” Robbie said.

“Thoroughbred racing has its very own style, and as its home in Canberra since the 1960s, we plan to use our platform to promote the sport and Canberra’s best creators and producers of high-class food and liquor.

“I would say to anyone who enjoys good food, great competition and a fantastic atmosphere, come along in March and let us give you a taste of everything we have to offer on race day.”

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Fashions on the Field will be a hot attraction, as always.

Not sure what to wear? Long-time MC Kristen Davidson said bright, bold colours were in for the summer season.

“Colour, colour, colour!” she said.

“It’s also about accessories. They cannot be an afterthought because often they’re what ensures an entire outfit comes together.

“Don’t be afraid to do something different, either. What the judges are looking for this year is something that really stands out from the crowd, something unique.”

Of course, the racing will take centre stage throughout the day.

Four stakes races are peppered through the massive 10-race program: the TAB Canberra Cup, Iron Jack Canberra Guineas, Seears Workwear National Sprint, and the Group 3 John McGrath Auto Group Black Opal Stakes.

“To have four stakes races on a one-day program is pretty unheard of for smaller cities and provincial racing clubs,” Robbie said.

“On top of that, it’s Canberra’s first ever million-dollar race day, so 10 March promises to be really special.”

The John McGrath Auto Group Black Opal Stakes race day is on 10 March at Thoroughbred Park, 1 Randwick Road, Lyneham. Gates open at 12 pm, with local racing starting at 1 pm. General admission is $35 and packages start from $75. For more information and tickets, visit Thoroughbred Park.


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