THE THRILL, THE SKILL, the fashion, the fun: Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival is an entertaining opportunity like no other in Australia. The five big race days offer distinctly different environments in which to connect with international partners, network with industry peers, reach out to local clients or reward team members. Read on to find the most appropriate venue and dress code to support your business objectives.
20 OCT. CAUFIELD CUP, CAUFIELD
First run in 1879, the Caulfield Cup has a history almost as long as the Melbourne Cup and has long been considered its partner event. Eleven horses have won the cup double, including legendary thoroughbreds such as Might and Power.
While the day is rich in prestige it remains overshadowed by the Melbourne Cup. As a result, entertaining in high style at Caulfield (a 25-minute tram ride from Melbourne’s CBD) tends to cost less than it does for the big day at Flemington.
One option is a table in the Winning Post Restaurant. “This is the most exclusive fine dining restaurant on course,” says Melbourne Racing Club’s Jake Norton, noting that trainers and connections often choose this as their race-day bolthole. Gold seats are in the tiered section, Silver seats in the upper plateau, and prices start at A$610 a person with a six-course lunch.
Less formal is the Heath Enclosure on the home straight. Private marquees cost from A$690 a person, including a four-course seated lunch or a stand-up grazing menu, or you could book a Home Turn table for 10 at a cost of A$495 a head including lunch.
caulfieldcupcarnival.com.au, 1300 467 223
27 OCT. WS COX PLATE, MOONEE VALLEY
Racing enthusiasts recognise the Cox Plate as one of the great weight-for-age races on the international calendar. This was the event the formidable Kingston Town won three times, in 1980, 1981 and 1982. It’s held at Moonee Valley Racecourse in Moonee Ponds, about 20 minutes by car from the CBD.
Moonee Valley Racing Club offers corporate clients the opportunity to entertain groups of 40 or more in private marquees within 10m of the home straight in an area called Legends Lane. Smaller groups are catered for inside the shared Fields of Omagh marquee, where tables for 10 to 12 can be reserved. From A$585 per person, Legends Lane guests are treated to cocktail food and buffet dining throughout the day, as well as a close-up look at the action.
+613 9373 2346 or +613 9373 2297
3 NOV. VICTORIA DERBY, FLEMINGTON
Touted as the finest day of thoroughbred racing in Australia, Derby Day at Flemington is one for the purists. The track can be reached by train from Southern Cross and Flinders Street stations.
Garth Bateson, senior hospitality and events manager for the Victoria Racing Club (VRC), says the day carries a sense of excellence that’s associated with corporate hospitality at the very highest level.
“We see senior executives socialising and networking with their peers rather than with their clients,” Bateson says. “And it’s probably one of the last major networking opportunities before the end of the calendar year.”
The Chairman’s Club (+613 8378 0633), available to VRC members only, is a sumptuous room with sweeping views across the Flemington straight to the Melbourne skyline. Peter Rowland, the society caterer who is celebrating 50 years in the business, oversees the menu.
Non-members are likely to settle in at The Terrace Restaurant (+613 8378 0658), where elegant tables are placed over six tiers to ensure uninterrupted views of the winning post. Expect to pay A$1640 per person on Derby Day.
6 NOV. MELBOURNE CUP, FLEMINGTON
The Melbourne Cup may have become “the race that stops a nation” in the 151 years since its first running in 1861, but in the 21st century it has a global audience, too. Appropriately, then, it’s an opportunity to entertain international business partners and clients.
Executives might be drawn to the privacy offered by a Hill Stand Corporate Suite (+613 8378 0853 or +613 8378 0628). Small trackside suites can take six to 10 guests, larger ones between 18 and 24, with prices starting at A$15,000 a suite.
Those entertaining on a larger scale should consider a marquee in the Winning Post Enclosure (+613 8378 0853 or +613 8378 0628). Ground-level marquees with a private courtyard offer packages for 40 guests priced from A$25,000 plus catering. Packages in the elevated marquees start at A$50,000 for a party of 70, plus catering.
Groups of four, 10 or 12 can entertain in the multi-tiered marquee known as The Rose Room (1300 727 575). For A$1200 a head, guests enjoy fine dining throughout the day with a four-course lunch, in the comfort of one of Flemington’s premium trackside venues.
9 NOV. OAKS DERBY, FLEMINGTON
Traditionally known as Ladies’ Day, Oaks Day has a focus on fashion but from a business perspective, perhaps the defining feature is that it’s a work day.
“It’s a Thursday and what better opportunity is there to discuss business outside the office environment?” Bateson says. “On Oaks Day, you bring the office to Flemington.”
The best venue for corporate hospitality would be a marquee within The Birdcage, but those are available only to VRC sponsors. More accessible is a table in either the Panorama Restaurant (+613 8378 0658) or the Skyline Restaurant (1300 727 575) opposite the wining post. At both venues, the cost per person at a table of 10 is A$600 and includes lunch, plus a reserved seat in the covered Hill Stand.
Those with tighter budgets or bigger crowds to please might opt for admission to the ticketed area known as The Precinct (1300 136 122). For A$110 a head, guests have access to this leafy, shaded outdoor area furnished with a variety of gourmet food stands, live entertainment and a super-sized screen.