Racing NSW reschedule causes heat with Victoria

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By , Connor Bennett is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger

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    The announcement from Racing NSW in early July of changes to their Sydney Spring Carnival has excited many people, however, Melbourne Racing Club chairman Mike Symons is not one of them.

    The Spring Carnival has been altered with race, distance and prize money changes across a host of events.

    While Symons understands the value of sprucing up a carnival for the benefit of those involved, he believes Racing NSW were ignorant in their communication with Racing Victoria and the Pattern Committee.

    “I’ve got no problem with jurisdictions making their carnivals more attractive but it has got to be done with the blessing and respect of the Pattern Committee,” said Symons.

    “In this instance, the process has been ignored and moving such races around has compromised the Pattern.”

    Racing Victoria upped a bevvy of their own high-profile races with additional prize money to attract stronger fields and international runners in May of this year.

    Racing NSW has made similar changes but to a lesser extent, including bringing the purse for the Craven Plate up to half a million dollars, a race famously won three times by Phar Lap.

    The Plate has also been moved from late September to mid-October as a curtain raiser to the highly anticipated first running of The Everest.

    While the monetary changes made by Racing NSW aren’t an issue according to Symons, there are scheduling clashes that have now impacted the Victorian carnival directly.

    “There’s no issue with lifting prizemoney, that should be welcomed,” said Symons.

    “Our frustration comes with a race like the Hill Stakes, which has been moved to be on the same weekend as the Underwood Stakes, and dropped from 2000m to 1800m.”

    While both the Hill and Underwood Stakes have history dating back to the early 1920s when first run, Sydney’s Hill Stakes has never once been run at 1,800 metres.

    Until now. Not only has the distance been dropped, but to the exact length of one of Victoria’s marquee carnival weight-for-age races, the Underwood.

    The changes are a frustrating factor of the Sydney carnival for Symons who believes the Melbourne race will now struggle because of it.

    “On the Saturday you will have a Hill Stakes in Sydney for weight-for-age horses at 1800m and then on the Sunday we will have the Underwood in Melbourne, which is a weight-for-age race over 1800m.

    “It dilutes the product and splits the pool of horses that both races are likely to attract.”

    There’s no word on whether Symons or any branch of Racing Victoria will challenge these changes, especially the alterations made to the Hill Stakes.

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