The Crown Oaks is the premier race for three-year-old fillies staged during the Melbourne Spring Carnival and takes place at Flemington Racecourse in November each year.
The race, a Group 1 staged over 2500m with set weights for the fillies, is the female equivalent of the Victoria Derby
, which is also held during the Melbourne Cup Carnival
. The Crown Oaks is the headline of Ladies Day - day three of the carnival, which is staged two days after the Melbourne Cup on a Thursday.
With a $1million prize fund on offer, up to 16 of the best fillies (plus four emergencies) can battle over a trip they have yet to encounter. It is a strong race for punting with bookmakers offer special promotions on the race and odds in pre-nomination markets well in advance of raceday.
Formerly known as the VRC Oaks, the race dates back to 1861 when Palestine won the first ever classic, the race has been won by some star fillies in its long and illustrious history which includes becoming a Group 1 in 1979.
Among the names on the roll of honour are Light Fingers (1964), Rose Of Kingston (1981), Research (1988), Spirit Of Kingston (1994), Kensington Palace (1997), Magical Miss (2001), Special Harmony (2003), Miss Finland (2006), Samantha Miss (2008) and Faint Perfume (2009).
Runners in the Crown Oaks will typically have contested the key lead up race the Group 1 Wakeful Stakes, a 2000m race staged on Victoria Derby Day on the opening day of the Melbourne Cup
Carnival at Flemington on the Saturday before. The Group 1 Thousand Guineas
(1600m), run at Caulfield Racecourse earlier in the Spring Carnival
, is also a good guide and one which many fillies take in en route to the Crown Oaks.
Brazilian Pulse was the last filly to achieve the Wakeful Stakes-Crown Oaks double in 2010 with Hollow Bullet (2004), Serenade Rose (2005) and Faint Perfume (2009) others to achieve the feat in recent years. The last horse to take out the Crown Oaks having landed the Thousand Guineas was Miss Finland in 2006.
Along with a top-class day of racing, Crown Oaks Day is equally busy off the track with Fashion On The Field competitions taking place to crown the best dressed racegoers. The concept was first introduced in 1962 to attract women to the racecourse and it has certainly grown in popularity with Crown Oaks Day being one of the fastest growing in crowd size.