Flemington unveils new starting gates

The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) has unveiled its new 25-stall starting gates, believed to be the largest in the world, ahead of their debut at Flemington on Sunday.

VRC chief executive Dale Monteith said the mammoth starting gates were specially designed to enhance two of Flemington’s most famous Group One races.

“The VRC has previously relied on two sets of stalls to accommodate fields of up to 24 horses in the Melbourne Cup and Newmarket Handicap,” he said.

“The new barriers will ensure that the entire field in these races are now evenly spaced.

“The more compact dimensions of a single set of starting gates will also allow us the flexibility of moving the rail out up to four metres, where previously we were limited to two metres with 24 runners.”

John Fargher, managing director of Steriline Racing who designed and built the starting gates, said they were the largest in the world.

“We can say with confidence that there are no other starting gates in the world with this many stalls,” Fargher said.

“Steriline supplies starting gates in 47 countries around the world, with clients including Royal Ascot, Hong Kong Jockey Club and Dubai Racing Club, and we have not heard of any with greater than 22 stalls.”

Steriline worked with the Hong Kong Jockey Club for more than two years to develop the special gates that open up 135 degrees at the rear, instead of the usual 90.

“The rear gates are shaped like a funnel, allowing easier entry into the stalls, which is especially useful for trialling two-year-olds who are unaccustomed to the barriers,” Fargher said.

Barrier stalls were first used in a Melbourne Cup in 1958 when Baystone won the coveted two-mile (3200m) race.