The Racing Spirit - Mornington Racecourse
In the spirit of Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival, we couldn’t help but feature the Mornington Peninsula’s very own Mornington Racecourse. Located on Racecourse Rd (of course) in Mornington, this rather spectacular venue was voted the number one country racecourse in Victoria on three separate occasions and is a premier destination for thoroughbred racing, corporate entertaining and major events.
The Mornington Racing Club was formed over 125 years ago in 1899 (a successor to the Baxter’s Flat Racing Club which first raced in 1856 near Baxter Park). That's some history. After a hiatus of six years from 1903 to 1909, the Club reformed and racing was established on the Peninsula with some semblance of permanency, even through the First World War years.
By 1919, Mornington Racecourse was acknowledged as the most popular outside of Melbourne, and in 1947 Sir Reginald Ansett re-established local racing (Mornington Racecourse was used as an Army base during WWII). Sir Reginald chaired a propriety limited company which purchased the course and buildings for 14,000 pounds and then leased the land to the Mornington Racing Club. Sir Reginald co-ordinated the recreation of the Mornington Racecourse from ‘a veritable wilderness’ which the reserve had become.
On Jan 15, 1948 the Mornington Cup had a winning stake of 1,000 pounds. Sir Reginald stated at the time:
“I want the public of the Mornington Peninsula to consider the Racecourse as their own. It will prove a great asset to the Peninsula as we intend to make it the finest racecourse in Australia, with the best facilities. The public will find that nothing will be left undone for their comfort and consideration”.
After Sir Reginald’s passing in September 1981, the R M Ansett Stakes were held for the first time a year later, and the new R M Ansett Grandstand opened on August 5th, 2004.
In 2000 the Mornington Racing Club launched the Hareeba Stakes on Cup Day with prize money of $75,000, making it the richest sprint race in country Victoria. It has subsequently increased to $120,000, and the Mornington Cup prize money has increased to $300,000 making it the richest horse race in country Victoria.
On August 1st 2010, the Melbourne Racing Club merged with the Mornington Racing Club, and it is now home to monthly race meets and much loved annual events. Some of the upcoming dates include the Mornington Oaks Day Luncheon (on today in fact!) which is a great day out for the girls to enjoy free flowing beverages and a gourmet three course luncheon.
Before the end of the year you can also join in the R. M. Ansett Celebration Race Day on Thursday November 23rd, the Mornington Race Days on November 13th and December 27th, and the Christmas Race Days on December 8th and 13th.
Prices for the Mornington Racecourse are terrific really, at only $10 for adults and $5 for concessions with children under $15 free. Tickets are available at the gate.
There are a number of dining options at the Mornington Race Course, including Gunnamatta Restaurant which combines gourmet dining with unsurpassed racecourse views, making it an ideal venue to entertain and network with clients, or to simply sit back and enjoy a day at the races with family and friends. We also love the Steller Garden Bar. It's the hot spot on Mornington Cup Day with hawker style food stalls, a bar, and all day tunes in a great garden bar atmosphere (don’t forget to book in early!).
The dress code for the Mornington Racecourse is in line with the Melbourne Racing Club’s code for the Member’s Reserve areas. Men (and boys over 13 years of age) are required to wear a collared shirt and tailored pants with covered footwear. Ladies (and girls over 13 years of age) are expected to maintain a suitable standard of dress in keeping with that expected of the gentlemen, and smart casual attire is required for the remainder of the grandstand and surrounding areas.
Memberships are available for Mornington Racecourse, and they are pretty good value too. A Full membership is only $165 and allows Member's Reserve access at Mornington Racecourse (and Ladbrokes Park) to over 40 race days, along with access to member-only events and discounted ticketing to MRC-owned events, the Gourmet Cinema (at Caulfield Racecourse) and The Peninsula Picnic.
One of the best local annual events on the Mornington Peninsula calendar is The Peninsula Picnic (which will be held on March 17 next year). It’s the perfect opportunity to pack your basket, picnic rug and dancing shoes and join in the Peninsula’s biggest food, wine and music festival. The Mornington Racecourse if the perfect venue for this event, showcasing the region’s best restaurants and wineries blended beautifully with the fun and energy of a live music festival.
So if you haven’t yet experienced the Mornington Racecourse, why not give it a try? There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy this local icon and have fun with family and friends.
The Schweppes Chairman’s Marquee
Race Day and Administration Office
Main Betting Ring
Gunnamatta Members’ Dining Room
Final Furlong Public Dining Room
Public Car Park
Members Car Park
The Wise Choice Catering Peninsula Marquees/ Cider Marquee
Trackside Marquees/ The Pommery Saddle Club
The Beehive Marquee
320 Racecourse Rd, Mornington VIC 3931
(03) 5975 3310
Images courtesy Melbourne Racing Club