The Australian Trainers Association will re-pitch its “battler races” concept to Racing Victoria if the big stables start dominating far-flung country meetings.

The proposal for over 100 races a year being run for stables outside the top 100 was close to being implemented before the shock exit of Darren Weir last February, which led to increased opportunities for stables that had been crushed by Weir’s state-wide dominance.

But the ATA is wary that big stables such as Maher/Eustace, which has over 400 horses on its books, might quickly fill the Weir void. Team Hayes and other big stables have runners in most parts of the state.

ATA chief executive Andrew Nicholl said that during the latter years of Weir’s stranglehold, trainers outside the strongest 100 earned an average of just $46,000 a year.

Their earnings increased by 25-30 per cent in the six months after Weir’s disqualification.

“We are wary that things might go back to how they were. You’ve got a stable like Maher/Eustace which has pretty much taken over where Weir left off,” Nicholl said.


“We will be closely monitoring the landscape for the next 12 months with an eye to a bracket of trainers who for many years were eating the paint off the walls.

“If the increased earning opportunities they have experienced post-Weir prove a flash in the pan then we will be having chats again with Racing Victoria.”

A year ago, the ATA pitched for 104 races to be run each year – about two a week – exclusive to “battler” trainers, run mostly at faraway country tracks.

The races would mostly range from Benchmark 58 to 64.

“They seem to be the sort of horses these smaller trainers seem to train,” Nicholl said.

If approved, the concept would be first trialled for three months.

Nicholl said arguments that such races rewarded mediocrity were misplaced.

“While there are still 800 trainers in Victoria the role of the ATA is to represent all of them, not just the big ones,” Nicholl said.

Leading trainer Mick Price said battler-only races were “a great idea.”

“I don’t think it would affect the bigger stables at all. There’s plenty to go around,” Price said on Racing Pulse.

“We (bigger stables) don’t need to go to the smaller meetings. Maidens, Benchmark 50s, 64s, there’s always heaps of races.

“It wouldn’t affect the larger trainers; we’re not the ones so much going financially bad, so if you had a better distribution it would be fine.”

BY: Matt Stewart RSN Racing Editor