The Australian Turf Club officially launched the Royal Randwick grandstand at a glittering gala in Sydney last week with VIPs including Hollywood actor Rachel Griffiths (pictured).

Opening with an arena performance in the Theatre of the Horse followed by a sit-down dinner for 550 guests, the launch later was transformed into a party atmosphere.
After entering via the day stalls, guests moved through an underground tunnel to the Theatre of the Horse — a new amphitheatre where racing’s best thoroughbreds normally parade pre-race — to enjoy champagne cocktails served from “muck-out” wheelbarrows.

Leading events producer Rizer helped to unveil the biggest sporting investment in New South Wales since the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

A team of more than 120 people worked behind the scenes to dazzle a guest list including the cream of the Australian racing fraternity.

A bespoke performance piece was created in The Theatre Of The Horse to celebrate some of the greatest horses to ever grace Royal Randwick, including Phar Lap, Tulloch, Kingston Town, Gunsynd, Octagonal and the Black Caviar.

The performance, which included a “race’’ of horses at liberty (no riders), was a collaboration of artistic and design directors with such credits as Olympic opening and closing ceremonies.

Performed without jockeys, the act was choreographed to an original musical composition before a digital backdrop projected onto the grandstand. The show culminated with a choral, lighting and fireshow.

Following the official opening formalities, a royal feast showcased Royal Randwick’s gourmet catering. Tables spilling with turf and flowers created a grand setting for the 550-person banquet of champagne, seafood and braised wagyu beef.

The end of dinner signaled the commencement of even more festivities in the Royal Randwick ballroom which was transformed into three distinct venues, transporting guests to a carnival of circus acts, a surreal parlour of performers and a whiskey bar with live music and DJs as invitees celebrated into the night.

CEO of the Australian Turf Club, Darren Pearce, said: “The launch event was a momentous occasion, not just for Australia’s racing industry but for Sydney itself, and something that only happens once in many generations.

“We felt it was important to celebrate a facility that has been built with a vision for 50 years ahead, not only for race days, but also for any type of event, seven days a week.”