The Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival kicks off annually in January and culminates at the end of March with the running of the Group 3 Easter Cup (2000m) at Caulfield.
There are a total of 33 Group races throughout the autumn carnival with nine of those races carrying Group 1 status.
Although the carnival officially starts in January with the Group 3 Standish Handicap (1200m) at Flemington, the first of the big Group 1 races, the $400,000 C F Orr Stakes (1400m) is held at Caulfield Racecourse in early February.
The carnival then shifts to Flemington for the running of the Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) where weight-for-age sprinters battle for a share in $500,000 in prizemoney; the race also serves as the first leg of the Global Sprint Challenge.
Other group races on Lightning Stakes Day include the Group 3 C S Hayes Stakes (1400m) and the Group 3 The Vanity Stakes (1400m).
The Following week, Caulfield takes centre stage with the running of the $1 million Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m), a set-weights race for two-year-old fillies, colts and geldings.
Blue Diamond Stakes Day is complemented by six other Group races, including the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m), Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m), Group 2 Angus Armanasco Stakes (1400m), Group 2 St George Stakes (1800m), Group 2 Autumn Classic (1800m) and the Group 3 Mannerism Stakes (1400m).
To continue the Group 1 action, the carnival shifts back to Flemington for the next two Saturdays with the running of the time-honoured Australian Guineas (1600m) where three-year-olds battle for a slice of racing history.
In early March, the richest day of the carnival is highlighted by the $1 million Group 1 Australian Cup (2000), a weight-for-age race for middle distance/staying types.
Other races on the rich day of racing include the $1 million Newmarket Handicap (1200m), Group 2 Blamey Stakes (1600m), Group 2 VRC Sires Produce Stakes (1400m), Group 2 Kewney Stakes (1400m), Group 3 Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes (1200m) and the Group 3 Matron Stakes (1600m).
The final Group 1 race of the carnival, the William Reid Stakes (1200m), is held at Moonee Valley Racecourse toward the end of March and is accompanied by the Group 2 Sunline Stakes (1600m).
To culminate an exciting carnival of racing, Caulfield plays host to the Group 3 Easter Cup (2000m) and the Group 3 Victoria Handicap (1400m)