An alternative way to kick off the weekend instead of sitting in front of the TV is just 6km from the Melbourne CBD.
During summer on Friday nights, no matter what your background is, you relax with a flutter of loose change on the horses, or take the kids out of the house cheaply, or a social outing with a meal at Moonee Valley Racecourse. All for approximately $10 an adult (depending on the meeting) with children under 17 free entry.
It is an easy train or tram ride out from the city to the inner northern suburb of Moonee Ponds. There is also plenty of space in the free car park in the centre of the racetrack.
I caught the train and walked up Puckle Street which is trendy little shopping strip to the track. It was the night the super horse Black Caviar won her 17th straight race in the Group 2 Australia Stakes. She is a celebrity in Australia that so many people came to see her that they had to open the gates for free to let the 15,000 people who had come to see her run.
The atmosphere is lively with everyone enjoying themselves as you mix with racehorse owners, hard-core gamblers, families, tarted up men and women sipping on drinks from the 6 public bars. Usually there is a live band on the lawn. Kids have lots of activities to participate in besides staring at horses. Picnic rugs and BBQ are provided on the lawn as well.
If the weather is bad, there’s always of room indoors and still see all the action. The grandstand has 3 floors of glass walls to look down at the horses parading before each race. After choosing the one which takes your fancy, turn around and there is the betting facilities and bar.
To eat there are various snack outlets or a three course meal at the Carvery. My rule when going to the races is that you only eat if you get a winner therefore I can’t rave about the food quality as I usually never have the chance to indulge. Also you can purchase reserved dining table packages with prime viewing of the horses running up the straight to the winning post for the night.
There is also the free to enter club called Moonee Valley Legends on the home turn. With a spectacular view of the Melbourne skyline and horses coming around the home turn you get their early to get outdoor front tables.
Last race is around 10:30pm then head into town or home. Hopefully you have some winnings to spend.