A Guide To Mornington Racecourse

The Mornington Racecourse is one of the three premier horse racing venues owned and operated by the Melbourne Racing Club, the other two being the Caulfield Racecourse and Ladbrokes Park. 

Located near Melbourne, this racecourse is fast becoming one of the premier destinations for thoroughbred horse racing, corporate events, and entertainment. The racecourse is incredibly scenic and is known for its views as much as it is for the race meetings. The racecourse was voted the number one country racing venue in Victoria on three instances. 

Here is a brief account of the history of the Mornington Racecourse, its physical attributes, and its facilities.

Mornington Racecourse History

Horse racing is one of the earliest organised forms of sports held on the Mornington Peninsula. The earliest recorded races in the region were held in March 1868. In the 1870s, race meetings were conducted on a property that stretched to Sunnyside Creek and was part of Beleura. 

The first Mornington Shire races were held in 1874 under the banner of Baxter Racing Club at what was called the Baxter Racecourse at that time. The club was reformed in 1899, and the Mornington Racing Club was established. Races were held at this venue until 1903. The Mornington Racing Club formed a new venue for race meetings at Preston Grange, and races were held there from 1909 till 1912. In 1911, the race club moved its venue to its current location on Drywood Estate, registered with the VRC (Victorian Racing Club), and set to improve the facilities at the new location meanwhile continuing racing at the old venue.

The first Mornington Cup was held right after World War I. Racing at the Mornington boomed during the 1920s and 1930s, and the racecourse became popular as one of the best courses in the region outside Melbourne.

Racing at the Mornington Racecourse was halted during World War II when the venue was used as an army training depot for the signals. The track was lined with telegraph poles, while the buildings and surroundings were wrought due to neglect. Restoration work started at the racecourse in 1946 and soon became its old version. The force behind the restoration was Reginald Ansett, a resident of Mornington and one of the country’s most successful businessmen.

The businessman contributed to bringing the race club out of its financial woes and purchased the land to restore the track and surrounding facilities. The Mornington opened its doors to the public in December 1947 when the first race meeting was held after restoration on 4th December. An impressive crowd of 6500 individuals came to witness the races that day. Over the years, the Mornington Racing Club has had its share of ups and downs, but races have been held on the present site since 1947. In 2010, the Mornington Racing Club merged with the Melbourne Racing Club, and the racecourse management is now under the Melbourne Club.

Mornington Racecourse Facilities

The Mornington Racecourse is located almost 45 minutes away from Melbourne. This racecourse is located at the gateway to the charming Mornington Peninsula and offers not only a premium thoroughbred racing experience but also the site of choice for various events for corporates and entertainment purposes. 

The Mornington Racing Club is set amid 68 hectares of beautiful and abundant well-kept lawns and Cypress trees. The venue offers charming views over the Moorooduc Plains while the town centre is also only a short distance away.  

The racetrack on the venue has a circumference of 1800m, while the home straight is quite short and only 210 metres. The home straight has a minor uphill rise; however, it is not big enough to impact the runners. Having a chase-out circuit shaped like figure 8, the Mornington Racecourse is one of the odd-looking racetracks in Australia.

Besides its beautiful views, the racecourse is renowned for its superior member and guest facilities, including its world-class restaurants and cafes. It is why it is a popular choice for corporate events and functions, concerts, farmers’ markets, car displays, and other such social events. The Mornington Racecourse is also a primary screening venue for the annual AFL (Australian Football League) Grand Final Day. 

Fixtures At Mornington Racecourse

The Mornington Racecourse features 20 race meetings in a season every year. The races have a total worth of over $2.3 million. With such lucrative prize money up for grabs, the venue attracts some of the best runners, jockeys, and trainers from all over Australia. 

One of the most significant events of the Mornington racing calendar is the Mornington Cup. The event is held in February every year. For 2023, the race is scheduled to take place in April. The Mornington Cup is a listed race that runs over 2400m. A purse worth $300,000 makes this an attractive run. 

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