Nestled in the lush, tropical surrounds of Fannie Bay, minutes from the Darwin City centre, the Darwin Turf Club is famed for the running of the Carlton Mid Darwin Cup, and its surrounding month-long dry season Carnival; however, with 39 race days a year, the trackside action never stops.
The Club is unique in the Australian racing community as it’s one of the few tracks comprising oil and sand. At 1780 metres in length, it snakes starkly black against palm trees and vivid green picnic spots, capturing hoof prints as each thoroughbred thunders past.
It’s also home to some of the most exciting stories in racing; the unusual conditions at Fannie Bay have seen the rise of true champions, most recently Finke, the three-year-old that emerged in 2016 as a Ladbrokes Triple Crown hopeful after taking out the Hot100 Darwin Guineas (1600m) and the Ladbrokes NT Derby (2000m), only to be bested by Canny Ballad in the Carlton Mid Darwin Cup.
Supported by a talented racing fraternity stabled on course, the competition is fierce each race day with trainers and jockeys vying to take out the year’s top rankings. At the close of racing, however, all gather at the Silks and Saddles Bar for a well-deserved beer. With the majority of the course open to the general public on a standard race day, the Darwin Turf Club offers a ‘backstage look’ into the world of thoroughbred racing.
Picking a horse is not the only thing that needs to be considered when attending the Fannie Bay Races; there are also myriad dining possibilities on offer. Ted’s Bar is one of the most popular options on course, offering trackside views, a great pub menu, full betting facilities and weekly drink specials. Ted’s is also the place to be on non-racing days to catch all the action from interstate.
Members from reciprocal clubs will find their home in the Sid Parker Stand, catching the atmosphere from the colonial style balcony overlooking the straight. Boasting views over the winning post, a luncheon in the air-conditioned comfort in of the Ted Bailey Grandstand is a must-do treat. On feature race days a sumptuous three-course luncheon is on offer, while on non-feature race days you can tuck in to generous sharing platters. The other option is to simply bring along a rug, a basket and enjoy one of the territory’s best picnic spots.
The pinnacle of Top End racing is the Carlton Mid Darwin Cup. It takes a little over two minutes to run, a dedicated team a year to plan and is the crescendo of a stunning eight-day Carnival. The iconic Carlton Mid Darwin Cup is truly the largest sporting and social event in the Northern Territory.
The day is broadcast to over 40 nations and will see a crowd of 20,000 revellers converge on Fannie Bay for a day of fashion, entertainment and unsurpassed hospitality. In 2017 the Carlton Mid Darwin Cup Carnival is being billed as the ‘Carnival of Colour’ and Darwin City will be awash in vivid bright tones when Carnival fever grips.
Being so much more than one event, Darwin Racing hosts at least three race meets a month throughout the year. With fantastic feature days full of entertainment, including family days, live music and fashion events, there is bound to be a reason for you to head trackside. Visit the website or call to find out what’s on this week.
Dick Ward Drive, Fannie Bay 0820
Tel: +618 8923 4222
Images courtesy of Darwin Turf Club