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Volume 10 No. 25

Events and Attractions

RACING NSW chairman John Messara has admitted the Queen Elizabeth Stakes could eventually replace the WS Cox Plate as Australia's premier weight-for-age classic after plans were unveiled yesterday to turn Sydney's autumn racing carnival into one of the richest race meets in the world.

The Queen Elizabeth Stakes has already struck a blow against the Cox Plate after its prizemoney was increased to $4 million yesterday to make it the world's richest 2000m race and the showpiece of The Championships to be staged at Randwick over consecutive Saturdays in April.

It forms part of the overhaul of the Sydney carnival, which will be spread over consecutive Saturdays in April. More than $18m in prizemoney will be on offer over 10 championship races, including eight Group I events. "I think the Cox Plate has its role in the spring and we've got our role in the autumn," Messara said. "I think time will tell us (if the QE Stakes usurps the Cox Plate). "It has to be won by great horses. The Cox Plate has a wonderful tradition and we've had champions win that race over time.

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The Queen Elizabeth Stakes could "eventually replace the WS Cox Plate as Australia's premier weight-for-age classic" after plans were unveiled Tuesday to "turn Sydney's autumn racing carnival into one of the richest race meets in the world," according to Stuart Honeysett of THE AUSTRALIAN. The Queen Elizabeth Stakes has "already struck a blow against the Cox Plate" after its prize money was increased to A$4M ($3.7M) Tuesday to make it the world's "richest 2,000m race and the showpiece of The Championships to be staged at Randwick over consecutive Saturdays in April." It forms part of the "overhaul of the Sydney carnival, which will be spread over consecutive Saturdays in April." More than A$18M in prize money will be "on offer over 10 championship races, including eight Group I events." Racing New South Wales Chair John Messara said, "I think time will tell us (if the QE Stakes usurps the Cox Plate). It has to be won by great horses. The Cox Plate has a wonderful tradition and we've had champions win that race over time." Messara maintained "the changes had not been made to put Sydney's autumn carnival in competition with Melbourne's carnival but acknowledged that Racing NSW had raised the bar with the level of prizemoney on offer" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 11/13). In Melbourne, Michael Sharkie reported the Australian Cup "could soon slip into the shadow" of Sydney's Queen Elizabeth Stakes. With trainers "increasingly reluctant to overtax their best talent during the autumn, instead opting for a light preparation ahead of the spring carnival, the Australian Cup at Flemington on March 8 seems destined to become the poor cousin of the behemoth Queen Elizabeth." The A$3M difference between the two races "suggests Sydney will be irresistible for those with a weight-for-age player." Trainer David Hayes said, "It's very tough to target both carnivals and very hard for a horse to peak twice in a preparation" (THE AGE, 11/13).

MESSARA: 'EASY DECISION': In Sydney, Christian Nicolussi reported "one question punters will be asking this morning is why the Queen Elizabeth -- and not the time-honoured Doncaster Mile -- was given top billing?" Messara said it was not an "easy decision to promote the Queen Elizabeth ahead of the Doncaster," which was first run in 1866. There was "even discussion of going higher" with a A$5M purse for the Queen Elizabeth. Messara: "It wasn't an easy decision because the Doncaster is a time-honored race, but the 2,000m is a world-accepted distance" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 11/12).

'MONEY TALKS': Also in Melbourne, Andrew Webster wrote "for too long, Melbourne has looked down its nose at its poor Sydney cousin, flaunting its Spring Carnival like it was the equivalent of the Olympics and FIFA World Cup." Melbourne does it "with style and class, we all know that." Let's "get real: without the enormous prizemoney on offer for the Cup, the best stayers from all over the world aren't making the long-haul flight to the arse-end of the Earth." It is "that simple." Money talks. Racing NSW's announcement on Tuesday "was met with equal parts optimism and warranted skepticism by those at the Australian Turf Club who now need to make it all happen." Those officials "realise there is an event that buzzes around it, and that is what makes an entire city embrace it." Racing diehards "might be licking their lips in anticipation about the quality of races, but a wider audience is needed if the autumn carnival is to finally flourish, as it has for Melbourne in spring" (THE AGE, 11/13).

FIRST YEAR 'CRITICAL': In Sydney, Chris Roots reported The Championships CEO Ian Mackay said, "The first year will be critical to the success of the meeting. It will be a starting point to build on." The job of "selling the meeting to the world will start on Sunday" as Australian Turf Club GM of Commercial & Sales Tony Partridge heads to the "Singapore Gold Cup meeting to secure a sponsor deal for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes." The ATC "will keep the gate, sponsorship and television revenue in a boost for its coffers," after announcing a A$4.8M operating loss in its '12-13 annual report (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 11/13). Also in Sydney, Roots reported in a separate piece the "dream is to have unbeaten Arc De Triomphe heroine Treve and American horse of the year Wise Dan on show." Messara: "It is going to be hard to get horses here on short notice but we will be making the phone calls. We had a lot of catching up to do on the world. We didn't have anything like those major carnivals until now." The benefits "will be away from the track as well as on it" and this is the reason the state government gave a A$10M grant. Racing Minister George Souris said, "The Championships will generate more than $41 million to the economy of NSW, increasing further as the event gains momentum. We have chosen this path to help ensure funds accumulated from race fields fees are preserved for use in country and provincial areas" (SMH, 11/13).

Top Hong Kong cricket officials "lamented the government's lack of 'dynamism' and support for sport," with Singapore looming as a "potential rival" to host int'l events once that city's new sports hub is up and running in April, according to Alvin Sallay of the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. Hong Kong Cricket Association Chair Mike Walsh said, "Singapore is really working hard to become the regional focus for so many sports, among them being a potential new headquarters for the International Cricket Council." HKCA Secretary and local ICC rep John Cribbin said, "They [the Singapore government] are much more serious about supporting sport than ours. They are more receptive to ideas [on how sport can help raise the profile of a city]." As the Hong Kong government still "mulls the best way to finance" its proposed HK$19B ($2.5B) sports complex at Kai Tak, a "leading ICC official has said Singapore is poised to become a prime centre" for int'l cricket with the new hub "capable of being calibrated to become a 35,000-seat cricket stadium that can host world-class events." Walsh said unless Hong Kong "got its act together quickly, the city was in danger of falling behind its regional rivals, not only in cricket but in other sports, too." Walsh: "It looks like it will be a great addition to Singapore and the region and all credit to them for having the foresight to go ahead with it. While we here have been 'umming and aahing' for the past several years over something similar for Kai Tak, they have gone ahead and done it" (SCMP, 11/11).

Expect businesses in India to "grind to a halt for five days starting on Wednesday," according to Norman Da Costa of the TORONTO SUN. Some services around the world "will also be disrupted as millions of Indians will have their eyes focussed on Mumbai where Sachin Tendulkar will be playing in his 200th and final Test." Even U.S. President Barack Obama has noticed Tendulkar's "mesmeric hold on fans around the world including the United States, where the only cricket an American is familiar with is an insect." Obama: “I don’t know about cricket, but still I watch cricket to see Sachin play. Not because I love his play ... it’s because I want to know the reason why my country’s production goes down by 5% when he’s batting’’ (TORONTO SUN, 11/11). The PTI reported two-time Olympic Medalist wrestler Sushil Kumar on Tuesday "joined the bandwagon of sportspersons" who wanted Tendulkar to become India's sports minister, saying that "it would be beneficial to sports in the country." Kumar said, "He should become the sports minister, only then sports will benefit. He treats all the athletes equally." Tennis player Sania Mirza said that "the choice should be entirely left to Tendulkar on what he wants to pursue after retirement." Mirza: "If Sachin decides to do that, whether it is politics or just administration for grassroots sports. Because, cricket already has that push, but other sports need that. He has inspired people for many years and is the best at what he does. People automatically would listen (to him)" (PTI, 11/12).

The German Tennis Federation (DTB) has revealed that Frankfurt's Fraport Arena will host the Davis Cup matchup between Germany and Spain from Jan. 31-Feb. 2. The DTB reached an agreement with Basketball Bundesliga (BBL) club Fraport Skyliners, which has to reschedule its league game against Brose Baskets Bamberg, so the Davis Cup can return to Frankfurt after a 15-year hiatus (DTB). ... Organizers of an int'l golf tournament said the event will tee off in Manila this week "despite chaos in parts of the Philippines after a typhoon ravaged the country, leaving thousands dead and affecting millions more." The Asian Tour confirmed the $750,000 Resorts World Manila Masters "will go ahead as planned from Thursday to Sunday," with fund-raising activities to help victims (AFP, 11/12). ... Commonwealth Games organizers said that highlights of the Games "will be broadcast on giant screens across Glasgow." Games bosses "revealed plans for 'live zones' in the city where people can experience the Games without holding a ticket." Screens on Glasgow Green and in Merchant City will show the "opening and closing ceremonies and the major events" (SCOTSMAN, 11/12). ... European Tour CEO George O'Grady "wants to take the Scottish Open to East Lothian, with Gullane being lined up as a potential venue." Royal Aberdeen "has been confirmed as the venue for next year's traditional warm-up event for The Open" (Scotland DAILY RECORD, 11/12).