Sydney to host $18 million racing carnival
Sydney will reclaim autumn racing with a revamped and rebranded carnival aimed at attracting international runners to some of the richest races of their kind in the world.
The state government has kicked in $10 million for The Championships at Randwick in 2014 to be run on two consecutive Saturdays in April and culminating in the $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes, making it the richest 2000-metre turf race in the world.
Randwick’s traditional flagship race on the first day, the Doncaster Mile, will be worth $3 million while the TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) will become Australia’s richest open sprint at $2.5 million.
Racing NSW chairman John Messara made the announcement on Tuesday along with NSW racing minister George Souris and Australian Turf Club chairman John Cornish.
Messara said the two-day meeting offering $18.2 million prize money would put Sydney on the world stage and on a par with the Melbourne spring.
“This is not some sort of competition with the Melbourne Cup or the Melbourne Cup carnival,” Messara said.
“Ours will be more of a Sydney style. It’s a different culture but we hope to have the same impact over a period of time.
“Victoria has done a wonderful job to develop their carnival. Ours will be very much different.
“Every major racing jurisdiction has a major racing carnival that stimulates the economy. This will become the catalyst for a destination week for horse fanciers from around the world and people coming to the races for the first time.”
Messara admitted it was unlikely Sydney would be able to attract many, if any overseas horses in the first year and if it did, they would need to be housed in Victoria at the Werribee complex and not at Canterbury Racecourse as had been mooted.
“Racing Victoria will make Werribee available to us and over the next couple of years we will build a quarantine centre at one of our provincial tracks,” he said.
“We are working on that at the moment.”
Souris said the predicted return to the NSW economy was $41 million.
The Randwick meetings follow the Rosehill carnival featuring what is already the world’s richest race for two-year-olds, the $3.5 million Golden Slipper.
The Queen Of The Turf Stakes will be moved from Rosehill and given a prize money hike to $1 million while the George Ryder Stakes on Slipper day will be worth the same.
Messara said the cash injection from the government meant Racing NSW would not be delving into money set aside for its commitment to race clubs around the state.