Sydney’s spring carnival will be moved back, more than $1 million in stakes will be added to the prize pool and there will be a greater focus on pathways to big Melbourne races, meaning champion Winx is likely to stay at home right up to her crack at a third Cox Plate.
The Australian Turf Club and Racing NSW are set to confirm a proposal to move the Golden Rose back to September 23 to begin a superb month of racing that it is hoped will have Sydney talking and will give the event some time to breathe away from the football finals.
The carnival will feature significant stakes rises for several races and will finish with the first running of the $10 million Everest at Randwick on October 14, which is likely to share its billing with Winx running in a $500,000 Craven Plate.
The carnival will embrace tradition, as the long weekend meeting features the Epsom and the Metropolitan, but will also come into the 21st century with a slight tinker to the program.
“Spring Champion Stakes day is our fastest growing meeting on the second weekend of October and it has shown the benefit of clear space from the football codes,” Australian Turf Club chief executive Darren Pearce said.
“We compete with all football codes with our autumn meetings and to get some clear air will only strengthen our racing in terms of publicity and crowds. We have seen what that does for Melbourne in the spring. The changes will help horses to get to race down south.”
The move will give racing two weekends after the NRL grand final to attract crowds to the major race days and have the best horses in Sydney.
Premier trainer Chris Waller, responsible for looking after Winx, applauded the concept behind the changes.
“We shouldn’t be afraid of change, but we shouldn’t be locked into anything,” Waller said. “Having options for any horse is a benefit and strengthens racing.
“To have another option for Winx in Sydney is good for us, but we will be doing what is best for her and her preparation towards the Cox Plate.
“We know that she handles Moonee Valley, so the last lead-up can be in either Sydney or Melbourne. It will come down to what suits best at the time.
“Last year the Caulfield track was very firm, but, having said that, the Sydney track can get very wet. We will do what is best for her.”
Everest day will be the richest day of racing in Australia with the Show County Quality set to be moved from August to act as a consolation for the $10 million Everest and be worth $500,000.
There will be significant prizemoney lifts for The Shorts, which will change to a set-weights and penalties affair, and the Premiere Stakes to provide a pathway to the Everest.
“We need to make sure that races leading to the Everest are the right level of stakes and that there is a race on Everest day, which will have another sprint for horses that miss out on a slot,” Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys said.
The changes have to be signed off by the club and Racing NSW and the prizemoney increases will be funded on a 50-50 basis. The changes have to be approved by the Australian pattern committee.
The Golden Rose will swap position on the program with the Stan Fox Stakes and join the Golden Pendant to start the carnival at Rosehill.