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Flemington’s traditional ANZAC Day racemeeting will hold special significance this year, forming part of Australia’s centenary commemorations.

Long an ANZAC Day institution, this year the raceday will mark 100 years since Australia’s involvement in the First World War, while paying tribute to Australia’s courageous service men and women from all missions. Commemorations will highlight the role racing played in the lives of those serving and the contributions of horses and racing participants in war efforts.

VRC Chairman Michael Burn and RSL State Vice President Major George Logan RFD will lead a moving ceremony in the Mounting Yard. Current and returned service men and women are invited to participate, with many attending Flemington after services and marches across Melbourne. They will be admitted free to the raceday and will be shouted a drink at any bar on-course between 1pm and 2pm upon presentation of an appropriate badge, membership card or medal.

Racegoers can experience a curated ANZAC exhibition in the Flemington Heritage Centre and support the RSL by buying an ANZAC Day Appeal pin on course.

Les Carlyon AC—acclaimed racing writer, journalist and war author—has named four of the eight races after deserving ANZACs.

The time honoured VRC St Leger (2800m) for three-year-olds—a race older than the Emirates Melbourne Cup—highlights the exciting program, while the ANZAC Centenary Cup has been added, offering a 2600m staying test for older horses.

Jockeys riding the horse carrying the number one saddlecloth in each race will wear commemorative ANZAC silks.

Since 1857, even in wartime the VRC St Leger has been run each year, enduring as a beacon of hope during the nation’s darkest times. Races such as this and the Melbourne Cup were deemed too important to cancel.

In 1915, the Australian soldiers of the 1st Light Horse Brigade at Gallipoli famously organised a sweepstake for the Melbourne Cup with the results specially ‘cabled’ and then published in the Peninsula Press (the official trench newsletter). More than 136,000 horses served for the Australian forces in WWI, with only one, named Sandy, returning to Australia. Living Legend Maluckyday will represent Sandy in Saturday’s ceremony.

The 2015 Emirates Melbourne Cup recently made a special visit to Gallipoli as part of the centenary commemorations.

VRC Chief Executive Julian Sullivan said the commemorations will acknowledge the role of WWI in shaping the nation.

“The centenary places even greater significance on what is Australia’s most important national occasion. It’s a privilege to recognise all the ANZACs who have served and remember those who lost their lives for Australia,” Mr Sullivan said.

Children under 16 are admitted free and can enjoy free activities on the beautiful Flemington lawn.

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