VRC Champions Day prize-money $10 million – New Vobis Sire scheme
Racing Victoria has made its latest move to future-proof the Spring Carnival with a series of prizemoney increases and the creation of a VRC Champions Day with prize-money totaling $10 million, which will take place on the final Saturday of the Melbourne Cup Carnival in November.
The VRC Champions Day replaces what was known as Stakes Day, headlined by the VRC Classic (Gr 1, 1200m). That race will be renamed the Champions Sprint, while the Cantala Stakes, previously held on Derby Day, will become the VRC Champions Mile (Gr 1, 1600m) and be run at weight-for-age level.
The Mackinnon Stakes will now be known as the VRC Champions Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m), with each race to be worth $3 million.
Racing Victoria also announced a series of prize-money injections across the spectrum that would see the total amount of prize-money on offer in Victoria next season surpass $300 million for the first time.
A total of $26.2 million will be further invested in prize-money for next season, with significant increases to the Caulfield Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) and Manikato Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m), while country racing would see a $7 million increase in total prize-money.
That $26.2 million figure also includes a new Vobis Sire scheme, which will see owners of subscribed winning horses receive a $30,000 voucher towards either a yearling purchase or a nomination to a stallion service fee. “This announcement comes after an extensive period of consultation with our clubs and key stakeholders to discuss our collective priorities for the new season,” said Racing Victoria CEO Giles Thompson.
“When it comes to prize-money, our primary objective is to ensure that our offering is not only attractive but, importantly, sustainable. At the same time, we want to ensure that we’re investing in all levels of the sport and we’re rewarding all of those who own and race in Victoria, no matter at what level they compete. “That’s why we’ve taken the approach to spreading the prize-money across the whole ecosystem, we think it’s really important not to just feed the top end of town and make the Melbourne Cup carnival week very special, but also to invest in that grassroots… because that’s what feeds the 25,000 people who are reliant on the sport in Victoria.”
The announcement of a new Champions Day for Victoria comes off the back of Racing NSW revealing a boost to its Golden Eagle (1500m) race in the spring, which will now be worth $10 million. However, while Thompson was not drawn into a tit-for-tat prize-money arms race between the two states, he had choice words for the direction and focus investment in racing in Australia should take. “I don’t think it’s a competition, head-to-head, between Victoria and New South Wales.
I think what’s important for Victorian racing is that we focus on what’s best for Victorian racing. We’ve done that over many decades and Victorian racing is as strong as it’s ever been,” he said. “That’s the focus, and if we look after our own we will continue to thrive in Victoria. What is equally important is that we have a view to a national lens to racing in Australia.
Our biggest competition isn’t and shouldn’t be with other racing jurisdictions within the country, it’s actually other entertainment and outlets for other sports. And that’s what we have to invest in to ensure that we can compete for that.” Greg Carpenter, Racing Victoria’s executive general manager of racing, called the new race day a ‘triumvirate’ of weight-for-age champion races, and said that the changes were only made with the interests of racing in Victoria and its participants in mind.
“I feel there is a great opportunity for the VRC and Racing Victoria to grow Champions Day into the future and bring narrative and create storylines to the day throughout the year and get the winners of all the major races to be there on Champions Day,” he said. “The strategy for the long-term is one of starting the journey to what is going to be one of the great days in Australian racing.”
However, the prize-money injections and programming changes announced yesterday bring with them further clashes on the placing of major races in both Victoria and New South Wales. The Manikato Stakes, held on the Friday evening of Cox Plate weekend and a week after The Everest (1200m) in Sydney, has seen the premier sprinters in Australia lured away from the feature Group 1 to New South Wales’ $15 million flagship race.
Racing Victoria resisted calls to change the date of the race, however, in a bid to recapture the attention of Australia’s top sprinters the Group 1 Moonee Valley sprint will have its prize-money doubled to $2 million, with ‘further announcements around bonuses’ to come. “It’s a very busy program which has been made more so by The Everest,” Carpenter said.
“The Manikato is a significant part of the Friday night to Saturday Cox Plate carnival. What we’re doing today… is having a red-hot go at giving that race as much chance to continue to succeed as we can. “I think people might start looking at The Everest, working out how much they actually get in prize-money and how much it costs to be a part of it, and thinking, the Manikato, very good prize-money, a Group 1 and maybe something else down the track, it might be an option. We’re trying to push the needle.”
One race which will be one the move is the Australian Cup (Gr 1, 2000m) which will now be run after the All-Star Mile (1600m) at the end of March, allowing participants to contest both races. However, that change could result in a clash with Sydney’s Ranvet Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) during the autumn carnival, with the two races now set to be staged just a week apart. “Australian racing is littered already with existing clashes of Group 1 racing.
The most famous one everyone quotes is the Australian Guineas and Randwick Guineas,” Carpenter said. “Certainly, what is best for Victorian racing is for the Australian Cup to go later in March. Its impact on the Ranvet won’t be real because they were already co-existing in that space. “I think the prize-money increase will certainly support the field and we’ve listened to participants and trainers.
They love the All-Star Mile and want to run in the All-Star Mile, but they then want to go from there to the Australian Cup, so personally I think this provides a lovely program.” In other changes, the Caulfield Guineas will see its prize-money pot increased to $3 million, while the Coolmore Stud Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) will command stakes incentives of $2 million. In the country, prize-money for standard races will be increased to $27,000 from $25,000, with stakes for premium meetings boosted to $37,500.
Midweek races will increase from $50,000 to $55,000, while select Saturday metropolitan races will be given an increase in prize-money to $150,000. These include two-year-old, three-year-old and races at Benchmark 90 level and above, with the remainder staying at $130,000. “We believe the prize-money on offer is already spectacular, and certainly far beyond what I would have anticipated going back a number of years,” Carpenter, who sought to justify keeping Saturday metropolitan races at Benchmark 88 and below to its same level as last year, said.
“Those races are well-priced at $130,000 and we also believe there should be an aspirational goal set for horses to go through those lower rating races to open class. In a boost to the breeding industry in Victoria, the governing body also announced a new Vobis Sire scheme, which will see a $30,000 voucher handed out to the owners of the winner of a Vobis Gold race who is by a Victorian-based stallion.
“Victoria already has the strongest breeder-owner incentive scheme in Australia through Supervobis and Vobis Gold,” Carpenter said. “From August 1, we will be expanding the Vobis Gold part of that programming and introducing Vobis Sires vouchers. Any winner of a Vobis Gold race… if the winner of that race is by a Victorian-based stallion who has subscribed to the Vobis sires scheme, the owners of that horse will also be given a $30,000 voucher to buy a horse by a Victorian stallion who’s in the Vobis Sires program, to be used either at a yearling sale or as part of a stud fee for a Victorian-based stallion.
“An additional $7.5 million will go to the Vobis program through the introduction of Vobis Sires.”