10 reasons why the Commercial Club Albury Gold Cup Carnival is Australia’s best country racing event

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City-class racing combined with good old fashioned country hospitality is what makes the atmosphere at the Commercial Club Albury Gold Cup Carnival unique. The Border’s biggest social event has grown rapidly and regularly attracts crowds of up to 20,000 with the city in party mode. Marquees that take weeks to build are the destination of many racegoers. Catchup with friends in a private trackside marquee within close proximity to the track and soak up the live racing action and immerse yourself in the social atmosphere of the carnival. It won’t take long to realise why the Commercial Club Albury Gold Cup Carnival has won the prestigious Racing NSW “Most Popular Country Feature Race meeting” on five occasions.


Apart from the $180,000 Commercial Club Albury Gold Cup, there is plenty of other quality racing. For the first time this year, the Albury Racing Club will also host the $150,000 SDRA Qualifying Heat of the lucrative Country Championships which headlines the opening day of the carnival on Sunday, March 17. The $40,000 Albury Mile and a $40,000 Country Maiden are other highlights of the opening day. The $180,000 Listed Albury Gold Cup will be run on Friday, March 25 together with the other traditional features of the Albury Guineas, Flat Knacker and Adrian Ledger Memorial. In another first, the City Handicap has been switched to Gold Cup day and has been renamed the David Wallace City Handicap. The race honours Wallace who recently retired after a 50-year stint on the Albury Racing Club board, which included 31 years as president.


While the horses, trainers and jockeys take centre stage over the carnival, the accompanying fashion frenzy runs a close second. Fillies and fellows relish the opportunity to don their finest and compete in the Fashions on the Field with plenty of prizes up for grabs. Some of the biggest names in modelling and fashion have been guest judges at the Albury carnival including Miss Universe Australia Laura Dundovic and Tegan Martin alongside Men’s Face of Myer, Kris Smith. Once again this year there are three categories in Fashions on the Field – Millinery award; Man of the Day; Lady of the Day.


Some of the nation’s biggest name jockeys compete for the lucrative prizemoney on offer over the Albury carnival. Damien Oliver, Hugh Bowman, Kerrin McEvoy, Glen Boss, Luke Nolen, Craig Newitt, Tim Clark, Steve Arnold, Nick Hall, Tommy Berry, Kathy O’Hara and Nash Rawiller have all ridden over the carnival in recent years. Boss, McEvoy, O’Hara, Rawiller, Oliver and Shinn all feature on the Commercial Club Albury Gold Cup honour roll as previous winners.


David Hayes, Gai Waterhouse, Team Williams, Peter Snowden, Lee Freedman and Peter Moody are just a handful of big name trainers that have either won or targeted the Albury Gold Cup in recent years. And while the big prizemoney on offer attracts some of the nation’s biggest stables, local trainers still collect plenty of the spoils on offer over the carnival. Brett Cavanough (Niblick), David O’Prey (Baby Bomber) and Brian Cox (Ekalaka) have all won the cup since 2000. John Ledger, Kym Davison and Kevin Hanley have also trained winners in the supporting races.


For the first time this year the Commercial Club Albury Gold Cup will be run on the new track, which has undergone a $1.6 million revamp over the summer months. An upgrade to the cambering on the turns will ensure a fairer racing surface with horses wide on the home turn not disadvantaged. Major drainage works and a new irrigation system are also part of the upgrade.


This year is the most lucrative carnival yet with prizemoney sky-rocketing to $850,000 over the two days. The Sunday meeting will boast $370,000 in prizemoney with $470,000 on offer on Gold Cup day. This represents a substantial jump on the previous year’s carnival which was worth $553,000. The Cup has received a $10,000 boost and will be worth $180,000. The City Handicap renamed the David Wallace City Handicap has also risen by $10,000 to $50,000. The heat of the SDRA Country Championship worth $150,000 headlines the opening day of the carnival on Sunday, March 19.


There’s no excuse not to go the the Commercial Club Albury Gold Cup with Albury enjoying a half-day holiday since 1998. The half-day holiday has been the catalyst for the event attracting crowds between 15,000 to 20,000 since the holiday’s introduction.The economic benefit to the city is also estimated at more than 10 million.


The Albury Gold Cup not only showcases quality racing but also some of the finest produce and wines from the  region. Hospitality marquees along the home straight and in in the centre of the course cater for the thousands who flock to the Albury carnival to soak up the party atmosphere.

1. YOU

The Commercial Club Albury Gold Cup carnival wouldn’t have evolved into what it is today without you. The Border and surrounding districts have embraced the half-day holiday, which has seen the cup grow into the biggest social event on the Border. Whether you are into racing, fashion, fine food and wine, or simply socialising with friends – the carnival has something for everyone.