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The Championships: NSW horse racing carnival

the championships horse racing betting and oddsAs far as the Australian horse racing calendar is concerned there are only two seasons – spring and autumn, and although the NSW Championships were only inaugurated in 2014, they are already elevating the Sydney autumn carnival into the same stratosphere as Melbourne’s spring.

Held at the prestigious Royal Randwick racecourse, The Championships is a ‘crown jewel’ of sorts for the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival. The Championships act as a grand final across a number of different weights, ages and sexes to determine who the best horses in the country truly are.

There is over $20 million in prize money on offer across a plethora of group races (including four group 1 races on each of the two days) which draws the best racehorses from around Australia to compete in top quality races against the best the international scene has to offer.

The Championships: dates, venues, tickets

the championships horse racing for AussiesThe Championships are held on the first and second Saturdays in April of every year at Royal Randwick racecourse in Sydney.

Tickets for both days become available for purchase from the Australian Turf Club website for the first day on April 1 and for the second day on April 8 – or tickets can be purchased at the gate.

Prices range from $20 for a general admission concession ticket ($40 for an adult GA) all the way up to $165 for a member’s guest ticket.

Group 1 races during the Championships

The Championships are spread across two race days with eight group 1 races in total, with four on each day. The group 1 racing is regarded as some of the best in the world.

Day 1

Day 2

Other group races during the Championships

History of The Championships

Coming together in 2014, the Championships were the brain child of the Australian Turf Club (ATC) who were looking to set up a ‘Grand Final’ type scenario in Australian horse racing which would determine who the best horse in any particular category was at that given moment.

The ATC then decided to take all the best races from the Sydney autumn carnival and run them across two days at Royal Randwick racecourse – a stroke of absolute genius which keeps eyeballs glued to the harbour city.

A total prize pool of $20.2 million across the two days of action, the best part of the Championships is that gives horses that do not have the traditional means of getting a crack on the big stage at Randiwck the resources to do so via the qualifying stages, which allows horses who have won particular races at smaller country tracks the ability to step up and strut their stuff on the Royal Randwick course.

What are the burning questions ahead of the 2017 Championships?

There is two big points of contention heading into the fourth running of the Championships this year: the status of the carnival itself, and the potential unavailability of superstar jockey James McDonald.

We take our best shot at answering those questions and several others.

Will Winx race during The Championships?

Without question the potential reappearance of dual Cox Plate and 2016 Doncaster Mile winner Winx will be the main draw card of the 2017 Championships.

Will the mighty mare compete in the Doncaster Mile again and go back-to-back like she did in the Cox, or do connections have another race in mind for the world’s best turf horse?

Either way, to see the superstar of the track take to Royal Randwick again in 2017 is sure to draw thousands of extra fans through the gates to see the special one go around one more time.

Will James McDonald be available to ride for Godolphin?

This is the hottest question heading into 2017.

Godolphin jockey James McDonald elected to stand down from the stable until the issue of whether or not he was party to a bet placed on one of his runners from earlier in the season.

McDonald had been in sparkling form throughout the season until his self-imposed exile, but the stable has no shortages of quality jockeys to choose from if McDonald is unable to successfully plead his case.

As of late 2016 there is no indication of when McDonald’s case will be heard, what the likely outcome will be but a guilty verdict carries a mandatory two-year disqualification, but that could be mitigated by co-operation during the inquiry.

Godolphin for now is standing by the Kiwi, so if he is cleared expect him in the saddle come April.

Is the Championship the biggest carnival in Australia?

The age-old debate between NSW and Victoria rages on, this time in horse racing terms. In reality, other than having a much larger purse, Australian racing will always be synonymous internationally with the spring racing carnival.

Will that change in the coming years? We are only entering the fourth year of the Championships in 2017 but we have already had worldwide training stars like Charlie Appleby and stables like Godolphin targeting this carnival as something they would love to conquer so we only see the festival growing exponentially.

As with most things in the NSW/Victoria rivalry neither side will ever concede defeat. So we can just sit back and enjoy the quality racing both carnivals have on offer. In the end, the sport is the real winner.

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