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Victorian racing chiefs call for spring prizemoney to be preserved

Wilson echoed those sentiments.

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”The industry is working through prizemoney for the spring. It is important for our feature races to have the best prizemoney and there is nothing more important than the $8 million Melbourne Cup,” he said.

Blanksby, whose club lost their bid to have the spring carnival revamped to allow the Caulfield Cup to take place after the Melbourne Cup, took the same view – as did his executive director of racing and membership, Jake Norton.

Blanksby is hopeful that crowds might be able to attend the track later this year for the major carnival races and that retaining the stakes at their high levels will ensure the best possible fields, including some overseas raiders. Last year the Caulfield Cup was worth $5 million, making it comfortably the world’s richest 2400 metre handicap.

”I haven’t taken it to the committee about what we may do (but) If we get some sort of crowds back earlier it might not be as financially dire,” he said.

”One thing we have said is that we have to do things as an industry. You don’t want a Caulfield Cup staying at its level and a Melbourne Cup and a Cox Plate being reduced. It’s all got to make sense and everyone has to be treated equally.

” Now the programme is locked in we will sit down and those decisions will get made.”

Comparisons will inevitably be made with Racing NSW – which announced last week that it would restore prizemoney to pre-Coronavirus pandemic levels from July 1.

That will increase the pressure to ensure that Victoria is not seen as racing’s poor relation in this most unusual of years.

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Racing Victoria chairman Brian Kruger has reiterated that a decision on purse levels will be made early next month.

Norton points out that Racing NSW did cut prizemoney substantially for the Championships, and for their autumn carnival so they made significant savings there which has given it some leeway.

“The ball is in Racing Victoria’s court,” Norton added. “We spend close to $4m a year topping up prizemoney for races. We have been hit significantly by circumstances around the pandemic….so we would be expecting Racing Victoria to very much come to the party as far as prizemoney is concerned, bridging any deficit in club-related funding.”

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