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Sandown Track Guide

Poor old Sandown is used non-stop for racing for the majority of the year, but when it comes to party time in spring it misses out and just gets a token invite at the last moment to close off the Spring Racing Carnival.

Sandown is the crowing jewel of Springvale. Together, Sandown and VFL park formed the pride of 1960's construction, and were prime examples of what you could do with an awful lot of concrete and a few pie warmers in empty paddocks in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Fortunately, although VFL park is long gone, Sandown lives on and is still very, very much in original condition.

Sandown suffers a bit from identify crisis. Having two race tracks, the Lakeside and the Hillside is bad enough, but in recent years Sandown has also been called Betfair Park and Sportingbet Park as well. You never quite know where you are going racing, it is all a bit of a lucky dip.

Sandown as a racecourse is actually extremely well laid out. Sure it is still in its original 1960ís condition, has an industrial feel to it and you can spot cobwebs and rat sack in various corners, but there are lovely spacious lawns and everything is easily accessible. The public grandstand offers a great view, probably one of the best of the Melbourne race tracks, has plenty of seating and you can actually clearly see the full length of the straight. Taking notes over there Caulfield, which still does not offer a public grandstand on major race days. ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Major Race Days

Sandown Classic
The Sandown Classic, also known as the Zipping Classic (there is that identify crisis at work again) is actually a really good way to wind down after a long spring on the punt.

It very much under rated and under appreciated. Head along one year and check it out Ė you might be pleasantly surprised. From a punting point of view there is always an interesting program to sink your teeth into. The ticket prices are not exorbitant. Best of all, there is no sign of the Spring Carnival pretension on course. It is a very casual, friendly, laid back and come as you are type crowd. Broken noses, scars, crooked smiles, real people and there is none of that Cup week fluff and airs and graces. There is no need to dress up and there is barely a suit or fascinator in sight. No celebrities, nor ambassadors and definitely no replica of a 12th century French monastery marquee. Not at Sandown.

Getting There

By Car - You can actually drive to Sandown and it is an easy zoom down Dandenong Road. There is plenty of car parking, and if you are really lucky you can finish off the day with a few illegal laps of the motor racing circuit. Just watch out for the turn off on the left as you come out of the city as it can pop up quite quickly and trying to cross 4 lanes in a few metres is a bit tricky at times.

By Train - Sandown Park is not the most glamorous of train stations in its industrial setting and well, to be honest, would be damn scary at night time. But it is fine for getting to the races in the safety of daylight when the vampires are fast asleep.

Additional Notes

Function Rooms
Sandown has a string of function rooms named after racehorses. Take the VO ROGUE room for example. Paying tribute to the super tough 1980s WFA champion who thrilled race crowds with his dashing all the way wins, including three C.F.Orr Stakes victories at Sandown in 1988 Ė 1990. Or the LIGHT FINGERS bar, where you can get great light finger food ? Or the LETíS ELOPE bar and restaurant cause she raced there once and won a race Ė once. Think she also drove past once or twice and said it looked pretty too.

Sandown racecourse is of course world renown for its car parks, walkways and stairwells as is evident from the steady stream of tourist buses zooming down Dandenong Road carrying eager visitors from all over the world. Seriously though have a look around, everything is big and totally brutal. They donít make stadiums like that anymore.

Rain Belt
Sandown is located in a rain belt, meaning when it rains, it seriously pisses down. During winter the track is often permanently stuck on a HEAVY rating with lots of racing.

Sandown is also a favourite visiting place for a large local sea gull population especially on sunny summer days. No you canít bet on them. Well not yet anyway.

In a major redevelopment about ten years ago, Sandown was given a much need freshen up and the track split into two courses, the Lakeside and Hillside course. The Lakeside because it is nearest the Lake in the middle of the course, and the Hillside because it is nearest to the grandstand, but Grandside sounded a wee bit silly. They also increased the pie warmer capacity to handle an extra two dozen pies for really big race days.

No Early Crow
Sandown has a ridiculously long and slightly up hill straight that often favours those running on. So donít ever go the early crow here when you horse hits the front half way down the straight - it may be lucky to finish in the first ten.

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