The Victorian spring racing carnival will offer $100 million in prizemoney and bonuses for the first time, striking a major blow in the turf war with New South Wales.
The Victorian Racing club, Racing Victoria and the state government have joined forces in the move to make the carnival $18 million richer than last year, after Racing NSW attempted to steal attention from the prestigious Melbourne spring with a raft of new, big-money races in Sydney.
Racing authorities had already boosted Melbourne Cup prizemoney to $8 million and now 16 races across the four-day Melbourne Cup carnival will offer a record $27.6 million.
A total of 16 spring races will have $1 million or more in prizemoney and 21 races will be Group 1 events.
The Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic (1200 metres) will double its prize money from $1 million to $2 million as will the Group 1 Kennedy Cantala (1600m).
The Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) received a $500,000 boost to $1.5 million as did the Group 1 Empire Rose Stakes which now has total prizemoney of $1 million.
Five bonuses, three of them worth $1 million and two worth $500,000, will be available for the connections of horses who race in a series of lead-up events in Victoria then win major races like the Cox Plate, in a strong offer to keep elite horses in the state.
The spring carnival has also taken aim at luring elite jockeys to remain in Victoria with a “Star of the Saddle” series offering cash prizes of between $50,000 and $100,000 to the jockey who picks up the most points on each of five major race days.
The conditions of the competition are yet to be released but will be out before the carnival begins.
Country Victorian trainers could also receive a boost to their big races with an additional $700,000 for the Melbourne Cup Carnival Country Series which is run exclusively for country trainers licensed in Victoria without a metropolitan base.
The $1.3 million series will see eight $100,000 heats run at Murtoa (October 5), Cranbourne (October 11), Hamilton (October 12), Horsham (October 20), Seymour (October 20), Geelong (October 23), Sale (October 27), Bendigo (October 30) and then a 1600m final at Flemington on November 7 where the first two placed horses in each heat will compete for $500,000 in prizemoney.
Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson said the boost in prizemoney matched the prestige of the events.
“Victoria’s Spring Racing Carnival is an internationally renowned racing event and we are committed to again showcasing the best horses, jockeys and trainers from Australia and abroad across the Carnivalâ€™s most prestigious and coveted races,” Thompson said.
“These enhancements to the 2019 Spring Racing Carnival come following the conclusion of our annual planning and budgeting process and continue the on-going investment in the carnival by Racing Victoria, the metropolitan Clubs, Country Racing Victoria and the Victorian Government.
“The Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate have shaped the history of Australian racing and will do so again this year, while the stallion-making Caulfield Guineas and Stud Stakes will crown our next superstars.
“Off the back of the announcement made earlier this season, weâ€™re particularly pleased to deliver increases in the minimum prizemoney levels across a broad range of country and metropolitan meetings this Spring Racing Carnival, including 63 black type races.
“This follows on from our increase in prizemoney for all 67 Victorian country cups during the current season.”
Victorian Racing Club chief executive officer Neil Wilson said the VRC led the way in creative race days and events.
“The sizeable prizemoney increases for the Stud Stakes, Empire Rose Stakes, Kennedy Cantala and VRC Sprint Classic in particular will help ensure cup week continues to attract the world’s best horses, trainers and jockeys, and ensure our customers can experience the very best in racing and entertainment on and off course,” Wilson said.
“Today’s announcement follows the recent increase in prizemoney for the carnival’s jewel in the crown, the Melbourne Cup, which is now worth a record $8 million in prizemoney and trophies.
“The VRC leads the way in the development of prizemoney initiatives, bonuses and innovative offers to participants, with the club’s annual prizemoney and bonuses direct contribution now standing at over $10.5 million in addition to industry allocations.
“Throughout the year the VRC’s significant investments are distributed across a number of strategic priorities including equine welfare, prizemoney, customer events and experiences, digital engagement and infrastructure aimed at ensuring Cup Week remains one of the worldâ€™s best sporting, entertainment and tourism events.
“The VRC is thankful for the support of Racing Victoria and the Victorian Government and their commitment to maintaining Victoria’s world-class position in racing.”