Jumping racing gets boost

BenMelhamoBMv6OK8vP1mMelbourne – More prizemoney and racing opportunities for owners, trainers and jockeys feature in a new jumps program for 2011.

Racing Victoria (RV), in consultation with stakeholders and Thoroughbred Racing South Australia, believes it can deliver a better structured season for jumps enthusiasts.

Highlights of the Victorian jumps racing season, which starts on April 4 at Warrnambool and concludes on September 19 at Pakenham, are:

* Total prizemoney increased more than 16 per cent to $2.64 million.

* 70 races (44 hurdles, 26 steeplechases), seven more than in 2010.

* Prizemoney for the Grand National Hurdle and Grand National Steeplechase increased 33 per cent to $200,000 each.

* The Grand Nationals, jumps racing’s showpiece events, conducted two weeks apart at Sandown in August thus allowing horses to compete in both.

* Prizemoney for the Brierly Steeplechase, a headline race during the Warrnambool May Racing Carnival, increased from $60,000 to $100,000.

* Nine tracks hosting jumps races with the resumption of jumps racing at Bendigo after a three-year absence and Mornington after a one-year absence.

* Warrnambool hosting over a third of the races with 24 programmed at the track.

* The number of races in metropolitan Melbourne at Sandown up from 13 to 15 with the introduction of three $50,000 midweek features.

“The 2011 jumps racing program has been designed to provide enhanced opportunities for participants and owners, whilst consolidating on the progress the sport, particularly hurdle racing, made in 2010,” RV acting chief executive Paul Bittar said.

“Prizemoney has been increased by over 16 per cent and we are committed to providing a solid foundation for hurdle racing to prosper over the next three years and for steeplechase racing to secure its future with a successful season.

“The program provides a better flow of feature races with prizemoney increases and date changes for the Grand Nationals certain to add lustre to the sport’s `grand finals’, while allowing horses the opportunity to progress from the hurdle to steeplechase.

“In developing the program we have worked closely with Thoroughbred Racing South Australia to ensure that our race programs complemented one another.

“As a result, no jumps races will be held on the same day in both states, thus allowing for increased cross-state participation by jockeys and trainers.

“We are pleased to welcome Bendigo and Mornington back as jumps racing venues, while consolidating Warrnambool and Betfair Park (Sandown) as the premier jumps racing venues in the state.

“The new-look racing program will be supported by an enhanced trialling and schooling schedule that will commence at the start of February and provide increased opportunities for trainers to educate and prepare their jumpers for competition.”