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Race-free week set to be scrapped

Race-free week set to be scrapped


Racing Victoria will walk away from the race-free week in 2022, while it is also investigating the possibility of building another mega facility to secure the state’s long-term infrastructure future.

In a special edition of After The Last which airs at 6.30pm AEDT on Monday night, RV chairman Brian Kruger also revealed the RV board has seen parts of a new submission surrounding the future of Sandown, with the race course’s future set to become clearer next year.

Kruger wouldn’t be drawn into details of a possible new mega-hub – similar to that of Cranbourne or Pakenham – but said they were actively investigating parcels of land which could be used for that purpose.

In the hour-long sit-down, Kruger also revealed:

–             The RV board has seen parts of the new Sandown proposal, with multiple options still in play;

–             That RV is open to tweaking its Melbourne Cup testing protocols for imports in 2022;

–             The race-free week would be scrapped;

–             The All-Star Mile would remain after the Australian Cup in 2022 despite a late push from clubs to shift dates;

–             Moved to defend stewards’ integrity investigations, saying they’d learnt their lessons

–             That there’s no intention to rationalize country clubs with any future mergers up to them;

–             Backed a national approach around welfare;

–             The future of Victoria’s wagering and betting licence;

–             And the impact COVID-19 has had on racing.






Kruger said another purpose-built facility was on the agenda for Racing Victoria to explore as it looked to secure its long-term racing infrastructure.

“We are in the middle of working through what the racing infrastructure looks like. Again, keep talking about this June date next year, but that’s when we’d like to be able to have some certainty around that,” Kruger told After The Last.

“The challenge there will be what happens with Sandown because that clearly will be a driver of what, in particular, the metropolitan racing infrastructure looks like.

“Training infrastructure has actually changed quite a lot over the last 10 to 12 years. The number of Racing Victoria training centres in this state has almost halved.

“You’re seeing what we are doing with Cranbourne, Pakenham, Ballarat. I think what we will see is it will probably slow down a bit in terms of the trend, but that trend of having those mega centres that have fantastic facilities because they’ve got the scale to justify it.

“There’s potentially some opportunities to do that.

“If we were to do something like that clearly it would be about keeping our options open around racing, training, education, facilities, all those sorts of things. That’s what we’ve got in mind, how do we deliver what’s needed over the next 10, 20, 30 years in terms of both racing, training infrastructure, but also education opportunities as well.

“I think if we did acquire a property, that would be one of the things it could be used for.”

Clearly the future of Sandown would have a significant impact on any potential land purchase with some money from any possible sale potentially used to help secure and develop a new site.

RV and the Melbourne Racing Club recently signed a memorandum of understanding which essentially ensures that the sale of Sandown must be in the best interests of racing, including current and future infrastructure requirements.

However, Kruger again reiterated that participants should not read too much into the MoU and the impact it has on Sandown’s future.

He said all options were on the table when it came to Sandown, including it continuing as a racing venue.

Earlier this year Racing Victoria announced tough new testing procedures for international horses wanting to compete in this year’s Melbourne Cup.

It led to increased testing pre-export and once in Australia, with just a couple of international gallopers making the journey.

However RV and the Victoria Racing Club successfully managed a safe Melbourne Cup, with no fatalities.

Kruger said Racing Victoria would be open to adjusting some of the protocols ahead of the 2022 edition of the Melbourne Cup.

“Our team are working with some external people at the moment and doing a lot of reviewing, talking to all the people involved with it, just to understand whether there are elements that can be tweaked.

“I don’t think you will see wholesale changes for next year. But there might be some things we can do that don’t materially change the risk profile.”

On the future of Racing Victoria’s controversial week, Kruger said: “That is very unlikely that will continue.

“A lot of messaging we got back from participants … was just let us see the program and we will decide when and where we don’t turn up.”