The Australian Turf Club has announced that Autumn and Spring Carnival racing will continue at Royal Randwick next year during the $150m construction of world class new facilities.
The move will see some of Australia’s most famous races including the Emirates Doncaster Mile, David Jones AJC Australian Derby and Epsom Handicap all remain at Royal Randwick in 2012.
The ATC Board decided that keeping major Sydney Carnival feature races and ten supporting meetings at Royal Randwick during 2012 was the best option for all stakeholders during the estimated 16 months of construction.
A revised Sydney Spring Carnival racing program has also been announced, confirming the ATC’s vision to enhance the current Spring Carnival and ultimately stage four consecutive Group 1 race days across Rosehill Gardens and Royal Randwick during Spring, subject to ARB Pattern Committee approval.
Royal Randwick Construction
Work on the new grandstand and theatre of the horse is planned to begin at Royal Randwick during November this year and is expected to be completed during March 2013, in time for the Sydney Carnival.
To assist in completing construction prior to Autumn Carnival 2013, 19 Saturday and 26 mid-week meetings will be run at other ATC and some provincial tracks, subject to Racing NSW approval.
Training and barrier trials will continue at the world famous track under a revised ATC program which has been endorsed by Racing NSW and stakeholders.
"The board is unanimous in its view that this plan delivers the best results for members, sponsors, corporate partners, trainers and race goers," ATC Chairman John Cornish said.
"The decision is the result of extensive and detailed analysis of a variety of options that impact on training, barrier trials, weekend and mid-week racing, Carnivals and non-race day events.
"This is perhaps the largest sporting construction project seen in Sydney since the 2000 Olympic Games. Obviously, construction of this magnitude will cause some inconvenience but we believe this approach has minimised disruption to the widest cross section of our stakeholders while helping to prepare the Club for an exciting future in the shortest possible time.
"Warwick Farm (16), Canterbury (11) and Rosehill Gardens (6) will all pick up Randwick’s other Saturday and mid-week meetings while twelve fully funded race meetings are planned to be transferred to provincial tracks, subject to final Racing NSW approval.
The Randwick Guineas and George Main Stakes will remain at Randwick during the construction period along with racing on two Easter Mondays, ANZAC Day, Queen’s Birthday and Labor Day public holidays.
The number of barrier trials at Randwick will be reduced to about one per month but the number of trials per day will be increased and there will be extra jump out sessions to ensure horses are properly prepared for race day.
"This program will reduce the term of the construction period and the financial impact on the Club and help to maintain wagering turnover," Mr Cornish said.
"It will keep the famous track in great order and reduce the impact on racing stakeholders on feature race days whilst still keeping race goers engaged with Royal Randwick throughout the Carnivals.
"Although the attendance capacity will be reduced for the major days they will still be greater than if they were moved to Warwick Farm, Canterbury or most regional tracks."
In addition to the Royal Randwick redevelopment, ATC is developing plans to invest the $24m government grant to upgrade facilities at Rosehill Gardens, ensuring both venues deliver world-class racing experiences.
Spring Carnival Improvements
The ATC has also announced a new Spring Carnival program that will see racing alternate consistently between Sydney’s two premier tracks Rosehill Gardens and Royal Randwick, subject to ARB Pattern Committee approval.
The program includes changes to the timing of two Group 1 races that are conducted by the ATC during the Spring Carnival and targets two races for elevation to Group 1 status, as below:
> 10 September - Rosehill Gardens - Golden Rose
> 17 September - Royal Randwick - George Main Stakes
> 24 September - Rosehill Gardens - Stan Fox and Golden Pendant (Target G1 races)
> 1 October - Royal Randwick - Epsom; Metropolitan; Spring Champion; Flight Stakes
The Golden Rose G1 is proposed to be two weeks later than in previous years, being scheduled for Saturday, 10 September 2011. It will be complimented by the running of the Stan Fox Stakes G2 (distance 1500m from 1400m) two weeks after the Golden Rose and two weeks prior to the MRC Caulfield Guineas G1 (1600m). It is intended this will help transition the Stan Fox to a Group 1 race over time.
The George Main Stakes G1 will also be scheduled two weeks prior to the Epsom Handicap G1, somewhat similar to the George Ryder Stakes G1 leading into the Emirates Doncaster Mile G1 during the Autumn.
Another ATC Spring Carnival initiative is the introduction of the newly named “Golden Pendant” fillies and mares race G3 (1200m) on 24 September. The vision is to make this the feature Group 1 sprint race for fillies and mares during the Spring Carnival.