Sandown Racecourse is one of the best known thoroughbred racetracks in Australia. It is also known as Ladbrokes Park (for sponsorship reasons), and it is located in Victoria. It is one of many tracks in the region to be administered by the Melbourne Racing Club and remains the only metropolitan racecourse to have been built in the 20th century.
It is located in the suburb of Springvale in the city of Greater Dandenong.
Sandown has two turf tracks with the original oval-shaped course measuring just shy of 2000 meters (1892m) with a sweeping home straight measuring 407 meters. The width of the original track is around 30 meters.
In 2001, the Melbourne Racing Club signed off a major redevelopment of the track which helped create two turf tracks. An additional 30 meters was added to the home turn while the main straight was also widened. The outer course was named Sandown Hillside while the inner track took up the moniker Sandown Lakeside.
The Lakeside course has a smaller circumference which measures 1857 meters, and the hillside course now measures 2087 meters. The creation of a second track helped the track stage more meetings, with nine additional race-days per year being staged on an annual basis since 2003.
Known Track Bias
Many handicappers consider Sandown to be a horses-for-courses track, with many thoroughbreds winning time and time again at the Melbourne venue. The turns are relatively wide, which does enable most horses to be in with a chance heading into the home straight.
Jockeys who are riding horses drawn on the inside must ensure that they steer their mount into the center of the course in order to retain a decent position on both courses at Sandown.
Races over the 1000 meters offer almost every horse a decent chance of success. There are long runs until the first turn, allowing competitors to take up their preferred position. Stalls 13 and 14 are occasionally at a disadvantage over this distance.
Over the 1200 meters, it can pay to favor the inside draw. There are just 300 meters until the first couple of turns, and this doesn’t give wide runners too much of an opportunity to get into position. Wide runners (12 and above) tend to be a disadvantage over this trip.
Over the 1400 meters, there is a slightly longer run-In, and although outside draws are still at a slight disadvantage, gaining an early position isn’t quite as pivotal. The same applies for races held over 1600 meters.
2,100-meter races usually have the most congestion. Once again, there is little time to get into position, and therefore horses drawn eight or above tend to struggle over this distance. Don’t be surprised to see wide runners struggling for room.
Races over the maximum distance of 2,400 meters do not have any notable bias.
Post Position Statistics
The post position stats differ for each of the two tracks, and the numbers can be broken down for each of the two courses.
The middle stalls appear to be the ideal place to be positioned over this course. Stalls 4-7 all produce impressive numbers with 12.4% of all winners coming from stall number 5. The outside draw has been fairly favorable on this particular track, with stalls 12 and 13 both showing good numbers. Horses drawn here account for 10.2 and 10.7% of all winners.
Only 4.7% of the 106 runners drawn in stall 15 have entered the winner’s enclosure.
The numbers from stall two were also surprisingly low with just 7.7% winners coming from this position.
Over the middle distances, there have been a higher number of winners drawn on the outside. 11.8% of winners came from stall 12 while 11% were located just next door in stall 13.
Although stall 1 was the most productive over the staying trips, stall 5 was the most profitable with almost 17% of winners coming from this position.
The outside draw was seemingly the ideal place to be positioned here. 11.7% of winners came from stall 14, although there has been a smaller sample of runners drawn in the widest berth.
Stalls 5, 8 and 9 also produced impressive numbers with all three positions yielding double figures.
Just 11 of the 243 runners drawn in stall 13 were victorious, resulting in a return of just 4.5%.
In sprint races, the middle stalls were the best positions for handicappers to focus on, with over 50% of winners being drawn 5-9. Just 6.9% of winners came from the inside post. Being drawn against the rail was clearly an inconvenience over this shorter trip.
This remained the same for races held over middle distances with stall 1 posting some disappointing numbers once again. However, stall 2 produced 12% of all winners over these trips. The outside post of stall 11 was one to keep an eye on with 11.7% of winners coming from here.
The inside trip was far more favorable over the longer distance. The stayers posted better results from this inside position with 10.7% of winners running the rail. Stall 4 was the most profitable, with 13.8% of winners coming from here.
Top Jockeys at Sandown
Sandown attracts some of the country’s top jockeys, and they regularly ride on both tracks.
These stats are based on the 2018-19 season:
Michael Poy (23% Strike Rate)
Ben Melham (22% Strike Rate)
Damien Oliver (21% Strike Rate)
Jamie Kah (17% Strike Rate)
Ethan Brown (17% Strike Rate)
Mark Zahra (16% Strike Rate)
Craig Williams (16% Strike Rate)
Jamie Mott (23% Strike Rate)
Craig Williams (21% Strike Rate)
Damien Lane (17% Strike Rate)
Ben Melham (17% Strike Rate)
Damien Oliver (17% Strike Rate)
John Allen (17% Strike Rate)
Mark Zahra (16% Strike Rate)
Top Trainers at Sandown
There are a number of trainers who are based locally in Melbourne and regularly send their runners to the track. Many of them tend to post impressive numbers.
These stats are based on the 2018-19 season:
James Cummings (36% Strike Rate)
Tony McEvoy (26% Strike Rate)
Anthony Freedman (21% Strike Rate)
Phillip Stokes (20% Strike Rate)
Mick Price (19% Strike Rate)
Danny O’Brien (18% Strike Rate)
Michael Kent (16% Strike Rate)
Matt Cumani (23% Strike Rate)
Michael Moroney (22% Strike Rate)
Danny O’Brien (22% Strike Rate)
Henry Dwyer (20% Strike Rate)
Tony McEvoy (19% Strike Rate)
Mick Price (16% Strike Rate)
Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes (13% Strike Rate)
Sandown racecourse opened in June 1965 and attracted an impressive crowd of 52.000. This caused congestion in the local area which wasn’t equipped for large numbers of visitors.
Racing had actually taken place at this venue many years earlier, with regular events being held here between 1888 and 1931. For a short period of time, it was called Oakleigh Park before changing its name in 1891. The Victorian government decided to cut down on the number of racetracks in the country, and Sandown was one of the victims.
In 1962, the Sandown motor racing track which runs around the perimeter of the racecourse was first opened.
A quarantine center was built in 1997, and this coincided with an increase in prize money, and subsequently, a number of overseas horses visiting the track.
As previously explained, the Melbourne Racing club funded a major development in 2001, and this allowed an extra turf course to be built. From 2003, they opted to increase the number of meetings per year with nine additional race-days taking place.
Key Races at Sandown
Undoubtedly, the Sandown Guineas is one of the highlights of the racing calendar, and it takes place each November. With prize money of $250,000, it always attracts a quality field. It is held over 1,600 meters and is open to the three-year-olds and above.
Other key races at the track (all held in November) include:
Zipping Classic, Eclipse Stakes, Sandown Stakes, Summoned Stakes and the Kevin Heffernan Stakes.
591-659 Princes Hwy, Springvale VIC 3171, Australia