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3 Carnival Race Meetings
The Carnival and its status in the wider community
Although racing in Australia is held every day except Good Friday and Christmas Day, the group one races in Melbourne are held almost exclusively throughout the carnival, which is conveniently placed between the football and cricket seasons. During the winter (where football is dominant), and summer (where cricket is dominant), racing takes a 'back seat' position in relation to the cricket or footy in terms of media coverage and attendances. However, in spring and autumn, the mass media turns its attention to the racing. There is also a Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival, a time where group one races are also held.
The carnival, and particularly the Melbourne Cup attracts the interest of many people otherwise uninterested in horse racing, and special forms of very low-stake gambling are often used for this event. One common form for groups such as office staff is the "sweep", where each participant adds a small fee to a "pot" and draws the name of a horse like a raffle. Prize money is distributed to the person who draws the winning horse (occasionally smaller prizes are awarded to placegetters and the last-placing horse). A more complex and high-stakes form of the sweep is the "Calcutta", often held as a fundraising event for community organisations, which begins as in the sweep (though usually with a much higher initial stake), but which allows ticket holders to trade their tickets through an auction system.
Carnival Race Meetings
The Spring Carnival is made up of meetings held by the metropolitan clubs, where group one races take place, and also the country clubs, which hold their own Cup meetings. Also, there is a 'breakfast with the stars' that is held at various tracks, where racing fans can see their favourite horses perform track work.
The Melbourne Racing Club holds three race meetings at Caulfield, each with major group one races.
Moonee Valley Carnival
The Moonee Valley Racing Club is famous for its weight-for-age Cox Plate race, the meeting which is held on the Saturday following the Caulfield Cup. There is also a mid-week race meeting which is held by the club, either the week before or the week following the Plate weekend.
Flemington Spring Carnival
The Victoria Racing Club's meetings attract the most attention from the media and the wider community.