The BMW Sydney Carnival hits Sydney over the next six Saturdays – first, three at Rosehill Gardens Racecourse, then three at Royal Randwick. And if you’re wanting to indulge properly in the sport of kings (and boozy TAB-dwellers) Time Out’s got you covered. But first, what is the carnival?
It all starts on Ladies Day (Mar 24) where guys and girls can frock up and get all Princess Beatrice in the Fashion on the Fields. If you’re there for the actual horses, though, you might try your luck in the tipping comp – pick seven winners and the $100,000 in prize money could buy you a lot of fascinators. Guineas Day (Mar 31) follows – and if nobody wins the $100,000, the jackpot will double – before we move on to the big one, Golden Slipper Day on Easter Saturday (Apr 7).
The Slipper is the richest race for two-year-olds in the world and it’s a pretty great day out for grown-ups too. Aside from seeing a capacity field of babies going helter-skelter for $3.5 million in prize money, there are four other group 1s (AKA the best horses around) on the day and the chance to see ex-French champ and now Aussie favourite, Americain, contest the BMW. Some might remember this name if you backed him and won the 2010 Melbourne Cup; others may recall him from the 2011 Cup that some say he should have won.
It’s then over to Royal Randwick for the final three weeks of the carnival. ‘Headquarters’, as it’s known among the silk-wearers and champagne-swillers, is undergoing a major face-lift, so anyone interested in attending is advised to pre-purchase tickets. Derby Day (Apr 14) is the day of tradition, and black and white is the order of the day. Doncaster Day (Apr 21) is fun for the punters, but for the horses, it’s ‘Australia’s toughest mile.’ The Sydney Cup doesn’t have the prestige of its sister cup down south, but Cup Day (Apr 28), with four group 1s, is a great way to finish off the carnival.
Celebrating or Commiserating: What to do when the horses go home from Randwick and...
You won big, big spender! Whether by studying the form or simply good luck, you’ve come out of the day on top, so why not splurge? You can’t go wrong at Tetsuya’s or Rockpool. Though this will require some optimism: you may have to book months ahead. If you can’t get in, we suggest heading into town to drop a couple hundred on some bubbly at the Shangri-la’s Blu Horizon bar. Exy cocktails, harbour views – you will feel like the high-roller you know you are.
You broke even The day has ended as it began, your wallet is content but it’s not overflowing, so you can afford something nice to eat. A pizza at nearby Love Supreme will have you feeling like you’ve had a win, anyway, as will a visit to one of Sydney's myriad Chat Thais, most of them ashort (and relatively inexpensive) taxi ride from HQ.
You lost the lot It’s been a long day. You didn’t win the first race and it got worse from there. You should head straight home for some two-minute noodles… However, that would be mightily depressing and everyone needs to eat, drink, and ponder where they went wrong. The Shakespeare can fill you up for just over $10 while a taco at El Loco will set you back $5.
Our guide to the form guide:
The number on the horses’ saddle, keep an eye on this!
The amount of weight the horse will carry. Look for a number less than 56kg.
The mystifying string of numbers and letters simply shows how the horse has performed in its last five runs. If you see numbers 1-9 it means the horse has finished in these places. A zero means it finished behind ninth place.
Fast/Good/Dead/Slow/Heavy/Wet. This tells you how a horse has performed in different track conditions. If a horse didn’t perform so well in wet conditions, for example, and it happens to be a wet track on Melbourne Cup day, you may want to rethink your bet.
A horse’s trainer is very important. A quick google should tell you all you need to know. For example, Bart Cummings is the most successful trainer of Melbourne Cup winners with 12 wins from 1965 to 2009.
A skilled jockey is also vital to a horse’s success. If you don’t know anything about the jockey, see if the horse has any experience with that rider. It’s a good sign if the jockey has taken that horse to win over similar distances.