Thoroughbred horse racing in Victoria is among the best in the world. While their breeding industry trails behind NSW, the state is home to Australia's premier races. Victorian racing attracts horses from all over the world for their carnivals, while television coverage extends to most countries and millions of viewers worldwide. More than just racing, the Spring Carnival incorporates a range of cultural events and entertainment for the whole family. The pinnacle of horse racing in Victoria is the Spring in Australia, running largely from September until the first week in November. The highlight of course is the first Tuesday in November which sees the running of the Melbourne Cup. Melbourne Cup week attracts tourists from all over the world. The Saturday sees the running of the VRC Derby for 3yo's as well as the traditional final qualification races for the Melbourne Cup. The Cup is run on Tuesday, while the 3yo filly's classic, the VRC Oaks is the highlight of Lady's Day on Thursday. Racing in Victoria is overseen by Racing Victoria Limited which was formed in 2001 and has representatives from most sectors of the industry. Victoria races on four major metropolitan tracks in Flemington, Caulfield, Moonee Valley and Betfair Park, formerly Sandown. The State boasts almost 70 racetracks. Victoria was also among the first Australian States to introduce an artificial all weather track which it installed at Geelong. Moonee Valley was also among the first tracks in the country to introduce night racing. There are twenty seven Group 1 races held each season in Victoria with prize money for these races totalling over $26 million. The Melbourne Cup is Australia's richest race, while the Cox Plate, Victoria Derby and Caulfield Cup are also high on the list. Total black type prize money in the State is almost $50 million for the season. The shortest Group 1 race in Victoria is the Lightning Stakes held in late Summer each year. Victoria holds only one Group 1 race for 2yo horses in the Blue Diamond which is the first Group 1 race for this age group in Australia each season. Total prize money in Victorian horse racing for the 2009 season totalled in excess of $135 million. Almost $6 million was added to this total through incentive schemes introduced by Racing Victoria. Over 550 individual race meetings were conducted, with almost 4500 races in total. More than 9000 thoroughbred race horses competed in these events. Lee Freedman, Peter Moody, Mick Price and Darren Weir are leading Victorian trainers. They are supported by some of Australia's leading jockeys in Damien Oliver, Nash Rawiller, Kerrin McEvoy and Michael Rodd. The State is one of the few in Australia that continues jumps racing. The jumping season operates over late Winter, and has drawn criticism in recent years from animal rights activists. Almost 90 jumps races were held in the state during the last racing season, and over 200 individual horses competed in these. Victoria has a rich history in this form of racing. Victoria is home to a buoyant breeding industry. Almost 200 stallions stand throughout the State, and Victoria produced over 4000 foals in 2008. William Inglis is the major sales company in the State. Their feature sale is the Inglis Premier Yearling sale held around the first week of March each year. Over $25 million worth of yearlings were sold at the Melbourne Premier in 2009.
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