Should the Golden Slipper be given a prizemoney boost? Which races deserve elevation to Group 1 level? Will The Championships be extended to include a third day of elite racing?
These issues and more are likely to be discussed when Racing NSW and Australian Turf Club have their annual review of Sydney’s showpiece autumn carnival.
There might be a reluctance to change anything given the success of this year’s autumn carnival but Racing NSW has shown repeatedly it is prepared to be innovative. My blueprint for a revised, improved Sydney autumn carnival includes:
#Golden Slipper and Queen Elizabeth Stakes prizemoney increased to $5 million each
#All Aged Stakes given a stakes boost to $1 million
#Challenge Stakes and Arrowfield Sprint upgraded to Group 1 status
#Sydney Cup moved to the last day of the carnival
#The Championships expanded to include a third day of Group 1 racing at Randwick,
The Golden Slipper once challenged for the honour of the nation’s richest race but it hasn’t had a “pay rise” since Forensics won in 2007 and has slid down the big-race stakes ladder to be ranked eighth.
An increase in prizemoney is not going to improve the quality of the Slipper field as the best two-year-olds are in the race every year anyway.
But the Golden Slipper is a magnet for publicity and generates considerable interest in the sport. Only the $15 million The Everest and $8 million Melbourne Cup have a similar capacity to attract year-long media and public interest.
Gai Waterhouse, the most successful trainer in Golden Slipper history with seven wins, told me earlier this year the race’s current prizemoney of $3.5 million does not reflect its importance to the Australian racing and breeding industry.
In keeping with this theme, Bruce McAvaney, the voice of Australian sport, said: “There are bigger races in terms of prizemoney but no bigger prize in the sport than the Golden Slipper.’’
“It should be worth a minimum $5 million but the add-on if a colt wins the race makes it like a $20 million race,’’ McAvaney said.
The Queen Elizabeth Stakes regularly rates as one of the top two or three races in the nation every season. It was the best race of the autumn again with Addeybb defeating Verry Elleegant in a thriller three weeks ago.
With prizemoney of $4 million, the Queen Elizabeth Stakes is already Sydney’s richest autumn carnival race and many will argue it doesn’t need any additional prizemoney.
But if an extra $1 million is allocated to the race, it would put the Queen Elizabeth Stakes deservedly on a par with the likes of the Cox Plate and Caulfield Cup.
At the very least, the All Aged Stakes should be worth $1 million. This weight-for-age sprint is the final Group 1 in Sydney each season, invariably attracts an outstanding field yet has total stakes of ‘only’ $600,000.
The argument that Australian racing has too many Group 1 races should not be the reason the Challenge Stakes and Arrowfield Sprint are not elevated to elite level.
Eduardo ran the fastest time ever over the Randwick 1000m to edge out Nature Strip and win a memorable Challenge Stakes that was one of the races of the autumn, and the Arrowfield Sprint has become a three-year-old Group 1 sprint in everything but name only.
There has been debate in recent years about moving the Sydney Cup to the final day of the Randwick carnival, becoming the third Group 1 race on the program alongside the All Aged Stakes and Champagne Stakes.
This plan would extend The Championships at Royal Randwick into a third Saturday in April and complement the three successive Saturdays of the Longines Golden Slipper Festival through March.
If the Sydney Cup was moved, it would require some minor tinkering of the autumn carnival staying race program.
The Hawkesbury Race Club’s push for a second stand-alone meeting is gathering momentum.
I like the proposal being floated by the club to have another feature raceday at Hawkesbury after The Hunter (Newcastle) and The Gong (Kembla Grange) in November. The local community really gets behind the Hawkesbury stand-alone, as it did on Saturday, and there is a hunger in the area for more of the same.
The stage is set for the inaugural Gosford stand-alone next Saturday which features the $500,000 The Coast (1600m), Listed $250,000 Gosford Gold Cup (2100m) and the Listed $150,000 Takeover Target Stakes (1200m).
It would have been some race if Exoboom and Private Eye clashed in the Hawkesbury Guineas last Saturday.
But the decision to shift the Queensland Guineas and run it on the same day as the Hawkesbury stand-alone meant the two exciting three-year-olds were in different states when they scored impressive wins.
Team Snowden unearthed an emerging talent when Exoboom finished powerfully to win at Hawkesbury and the Joe Pride-trained Private Eye did something similar at Eagle Farm.
Private Eye almost certainly would have been at Hawkesbury if the Queensland Guineas was run in its usual slot later in the Brisbane carnival.
American training legend Bob Baffert won a record seventh Kentucky Derby when Medina Spirit won the first leg of the US triple crown at Churchill Downs on Sunday morning (Australian time).
Baffert, who has prepared champions American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018) to win the Kentucky Derby, combined with jockey John Velazquez to win the race for a second straight year after Authentic won last September in a race postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Kentucky Derby returned to its traditional slot on the first Saturday in May with 51,838 watching Medina Spirit win narrowly as hot favourite while Essential Quality ran fourth after enduring a wide run.
In England, the Jim Bolger-trained Poetic Flare won the first of the British three-year-old classics, the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.
Originally published asSlipper stakes boost in carnival overhaul
Source: Read Full Article