Sydney Overhaul To Make Autumn Carnival World's Richest Racing Event
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.- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/sport/turf-thoroughbreds/sydney-overhaul-aims-to-make-autumn-carnival-worlds-richest-racing-event/story-fnajufri-1226758520327#sthash.AoDs1aox.dpuf
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).