Alice Springs is the third largest town in Australia’s Northern Territory, and is popularly known as The Alice, or just Alice. It is located in Australia’s geographic centre.
The Arrente, initial inhabitants of this area for thousands of years, call the site Mparntwe. The Alice for whom the town is named is Lady Alice Todd, née Alice Gillam Bell, who was the wife of Sir Charles Todd, the telegraph pioneer. Alice Springs is nearly halfway between Darwin and Adelaide.
Alice Springs spans the typically dry Todd River, found on the north side of the MacDonnell Ranges. The area surrounding the town is known as the Red Centre, or Central Australia, which has an incredibly parched environment comprised of several deserts. Temperatures vary dramatically in this town, reaching incredible highs and lows, knowledge we now have thanks to peril the initial settlers faced.
The Alice Springs Cup follows the Pioneer Sprint run, occurring on the first Monday in May, with the Pioneer Sprint taking place the Saturday before.
Gates for the Pioneer Sprint usually open at around 10h30, with ticket prices varying for adults, seniors and children. There are a limited number of Members Stand Admission tickets available, and various events besides the horse races are conducted on the day, including, in the best racecourse tradition, one for children’s fashions.
Race goers are able to take advantage of plenty of shade and seating, as well as the Princess Amelia cafeteria which offers a wide variety of fare, or make use of the picnic facilities provided by the racecourse and partake of their own repasts if they wish to.
The Pioneer Sprint horse betting features prize money of AU$100 000, and is flat racing on a sand surface. The track’s circumference is 1690 metres, with a final straight of 270 metres, and is held at the Alice Springs Surf Club, located on the South Stuart Highway.
This racecourse is widely held to be one of the most beautifully situated ones in Australia, and is to be found just seven kilometres from the city’s central business district, closer than any other racetrack in the country.
The Pioneer Sprint track action is the main drawcard for the day, but there are many other elements that help foster the racing experience, including the Dave Fogarty Pavilion, the Members Lounge which boasts a private outdoor balcony and the Guineas Bar.
The racecourse is able to cater for starts from 900 metres right on out to a full two kilometres, thanks to its special sand mixture surface which is also used at Darwin’s Fannie Bay track.
The winner for the Alice Springs 2015 Pioneer Sprint for 2015 was the Kerry Petrick-trained Planet Voyage, a gelding that had run second in every one of his last three starts. This has all changed thanks to this win, with Planet Voyage claiming his sixth win from a total of 33 starts, and his first for the year 2015.