Located 6km from the Melbourne CBD, Moonee Valley Racecourse was established in 1883 after William Samuel Cox purchased a farm owned by John F Feehan to house the rack. Almost rectangular, the Moonee Valley track has a circumference of 1805m, with a short finishing straight of just 173m. It features an artificial surface (the StrathAyr Turf System), which includes a lower layer of sand and an upper root-zone layer reinforced with mesh elements. It suits horses which prefer ‘a bit of give in the ground’.
In the 1970s, harness racing moved from the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds to the Valley. That continued until February 2010 when the contract ended and harness racing in Melbourne found a new home at Melton.
Moonee Valley Racecourse hosts a race regarded as Australasia’s Weight For Age championship; the WS Cox Plate (2040m). The elite staying test boasts stakes of $3m, and past winners include great turf champions such as So You Think, Makybe Diva, Northerly, Sunline, Might And Power, Saintly, Octagonal, Super Impose, Better Loosen Up, Bonecrusher, Kingston Town, Tobin Bronze and Phar Lap. Other elite races held at the Valley are the Manikato Stakes, William Reid Stakes and AJ Moir Stakes.
The small straight and tight track favours front runners, but riders have to be patient and not hit the ‘go button’ too early, as most major races are contested at break-neck speed. The grandstands offer racegoers a bird’s eye view of the on-track action in the Valley’s amphitheatre style layout with a stunning backdrop of Melbourne City’s skyline.