Spring Carnival shake-up gets huge tick of approval
Planned changes to the spring carnival should be permanent according to Melbourne Cup winning trainer Danny O'Brien amid a groundswell of support from trainers for a proposed overhaul.
Confirmation of date changes is expected next week after the proposal to move 14 meetings, including the Caulfield Cup, Caulfield Guineas and Toorak Handicap to late November, was revealed by the Herald Sun on Tuesday.
The plan, formulated by the Melbourne Racing Club, was sent to all clubs and put to the Racing Victoria board at a meeting on Tuesday.
Trainers have demanded a decision sooner rather than later as spring contenders return to work.
The MRC chairman Peter le Grand, while adamant nothing had been confirmed, said moving the Caulfield carnival to after the Melbourne Cup, in the hope of crowds attending, was a "no-brainer".
"We think there's some huge advantage if the Caulfield Cup was run later," he said.
"Just imagine if we had a Caulfield Cup with no crowd, that'd be absolutely shattering for our members."
The move has the support of Victorian racing minister Martin Pakula and RV, which has the final say on the racing calendar, confirmed "nothing was off the table".
"The Melbourne Racing Club have already publicly stated their wish to move the Caulfield Cup Carnival to November as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Naturally, it is one of the many options under consideration," an RV spokesman said.
O'Brien, who won last year's Melbourne Cup with Vow and Declare, made a strong argument to make a permanent shift to a later carnival, which currently runs from September to early November.
He said the big races were being run too early in the season, which starts on August 1, and horses were peaking as the current carnival finished.
"I am in favour of the general principle of holding some of our better racing at the end of November or early December," he said.
"From the perspective of a horse conditioner, they come out of winter and start to do really well about early to mid-November, and that's when we wrap it all up.
"It would give all the younger horses time to mature and develop too.
"In Europe they don't hold any major races in the first four months of their season. We do that in the second and third months.
"I can't see any downside moving the Caulfield Cup. The bigger gap we have from winter the better the horses generally are."
Other leading trainers including David Hayes and Mick Price have also thrown their support behind the move.
Ciaron Maher, currently leading the Victorian trainers premiership, confirmed he was asked by the MRC for his thoughts on the calendar change and said it could be a good time for a "revamp"
"It would be ideal if all the clubs came on board and put the whole carnival back. If it was back further, it would be fine," Maher said.
"It's just how the programming is done. It might be a little bit disjointed … but it's all management. As long as there is some thought put in to races that marry up.
"The racing pattern has changed a lot over the years. It might be due for a bit of a revamp."
Originally published as Spring Carnival shake-up gets huge tick of approval