However, there is a widespread belief in the industry that prizemoney will have to be reduced even for such iconic events as the industry battles to recover from the crippling financial blows brought by the coronavirus.
In the medium term, for races at country meetings where stakes are lower, Racing Victoria will reduce its prizemoney contribution by 10 per cent per race, provided no TAB race is conducted for less than $20,000.
In a statement RV said that prizemoney contributions to individual races by racing clubs and sales companies, which predominantly occur during the spring racing carnival and autumn’s festival of racing, will be at the discretion of the racing clubs and sales companies when those decisions need to be made.
The shakeout will also hit staff hard. From Wednesday until further notice, more than 40 per cent of Racing Victoria’s permanent staff will be temporarily stood down or be required to work reduced hours
The board, headed by chairman Brian Kruger, and executive team, led by chief executive Giles Thompson, have all agreed to a voluntary pay cut of 50 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.
Staff who have been stood down or those who are working reduced hours are taking leave and time owed in lieu, while for those with minimal entitlements, Racing Victoria has introduced COVID-19 assistance leave, which will offer up to 20 days of annual leave in advance.
Kruger said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had an incredible impact on the world as we know it, affecting livelihoods and our way of life. Racing is not immune to that and thus we have had to make some incredibly tough decisions today around our workforce and prizemoney, which fuels participation in our industry.
“These are not decisions that we have taken lightly, however the impacts of the past fortnight and the nation’s rapidly evolving economic crisis means that we must act now to help soften the blow for Victorian racing.
“It has become clear that this pandemic and the associated economic crisis will have a long-term impact on our industry if we don’t seek to mitigate the impact now.
“It is critical for the long-term viability of the industry that we reduce our expenditure to help compensate for the short- to medium-term reduction we will have in our revenues. Equally, this will ensure that we are in the best position to support the industry if a shutdown occurs and to subsequently lead the rebuild of Victorian racing.”
Kruger said RV was acting in line with its member clubs, many of whom have already stood down or laid off staff and reduced their operations.
“Whilst the industry has wisely built an industry sustainability fund over the past five years, it is prudent at this time that sufficient funds remain available to assist the industry should we face a shutdown at any time and then need to rebuild our sport thereafter.
“Those stood down remain RV employees and it is our intention to re-activate them at the time where it is deemed appropriate and necessary to power-up the industry and recommence particular duties and projects.”
Incentives such as the VOBIS scheme (set up to stimulate investment and interest in Victorian breeding and stud farms) will also be cut.
Metropolitan Super VOBIS and VOBIS Gold bonuses will be reduced by 15 per cent, and country Super VOBIS and VOBIS Gold bonuses by 7.5 per cent
The biggest two-year-old VOBIS race, the Showdown (due to be run at Caulfield on April 18) has suffered a 10 per cent cut from $1 million to $905,000 while the VOBIS Gold Guineas, a three-year-old race, will be reduced from $500,000 to $452,500.
Michael Lynch is The Age’s chief soccer reporter and also reports on motor sport and horseracing