The Railway Stakes is one of the top Group 1 races held in Perth, Western Australia. Due to the distance from the eastern states, where most Australian horseracing occurs, Western Australia is not normally involved in horseracing. Although once a year, in late November, Perth hosts its annual racing carnival.
Over three weekends, the main races take place which are the Railway Stakes, the Winterbottom Stakes and the Kingston Town Classic. These are the highlights of the Perth horse racing calendar.
The history of the races
If you have ever travelled to Perth to attend the Railway Stakes, odds are that you were pleasantly surprised about how such a large and prestigious event occurs so far away from the main cities that host horse racing. The race is 1600 metres with an open handicap for horses three years and older and has offered total prize money of $1,000,000 since 2007.
The length of the Railway Stakes was reduced in 1925 from 2000 metres to 1600 metres and has remained a fixture in the Perth Cup. Interestingly, the race was shortened to 1500 metres between 1972 and 1983 after which it subsequently changed back to the one mile (1600 metre) race we know today. Even when it was at the 1500 metre race, it was awarded the Group 1 status in 1979, cementing its importance in Australian horseracing.
The Western Australian Turf Club decided to move the races from Perth Cup day, typically in early January, to late November to coincide and form a part of the yearly Perth Carnival. It goes to show the amount of respect the business has for the love of horse racing and the lengths they will go to, to make it a national event.
The Railway Stakes
The event takes place at the Ascot Racecourse, which is right in the centre of Perth along the Swan River. The track itself is turf, as are most horseracing tracks with only a few exceptions, with a total circumference of 2,000 metres. It is known as the ‘Grand Old Lady’ of Australian racecourses. If you get the Railway Stakes odds right, this can be a fantastic day of Group 1 Australian horseracing.
The Railway Stakes is the headlining event but it is important not to forget the other potentially lucrative races that take place during the carnival. These include The Gong which is run at Kembla Grange with prize money of $1,000,000.
The first Railway Stakes was won back in 1887 by Nimrod and has continued to host a professional array of horses since then but the event is not just about horse racing itself. The carnival offers fun days to enjoy, glamorous fashions and ladies’ days too. If you feel the need to get away from the racing side of things, then you have plenty of options to choose from. The venue is fully equipped so you can enjoy all the glitz and glamour without being in Melbourne. The weather in November is beautiful in Perth and the Stakes are a fantastic way to enjoy it.
Although the event is far from the main horse racing events in Sydney and Melbourne, if you are into horseracing, it is worth heading out to see and capture the spirit and excitement of this wonderful spectator sport.