The Victoria Racing Club has announced several changes to the 2011 $6.2 million Gr1 Melbourne Cup race conditions, including:
> Nominations will close at on Thursday 1 September (1 month later than previously).
> Handicap weights will be issued on Tuesday 13 September (2 weeks later than previously).
> The (higher) minimum standard to be liable for a weight penalty (if any) after the
declaration of weights, is now to win at least a Listed Race (handicap) of 1600m or further. (Formerly any handicap race in which 1st prize was $60,000 or more).
> A higher minimum standard is required to pass the 1st balloting clause, with a win in at least a Listed Race, or a placing in a Group Race, of 2300m or further (run on or since 1 August 2009). (Formerly by being placed 1st-5th in any open class flat race of 2300m or further & earning $60,000 or more for that placing). The only exceptions to this are specific major staying races overseas, which, by their nature, do not qualify for international black-type status. They are: York Ebor (UK), Northumberland Plate (UK), Cesarewitch (UK), Champions & Chater Cup (HK) & Queen Mother Memorial Cup (HK). (These events would be Group Races if they were run in Australia).
> To balance out the effect of removing the $60,000 prize-money requirement referred to above, the 4th & 5th place-getters in all Gr1 races over 2300m or further (run on or since 1 August 2009) in which horses older than 3YO could run, will now pass the 1st balloting clause. (Australian races in this category are the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup, Tancred Stakes, Sydney Cup & The Metropolitan).
> A new condition of the race is: If Racing Victoria stewards receive & accept a RV veterinary surgeon's report that a particular horse would have been unfit to compete in the Melbourne Cup race if it was held on the actual day of final acceptance closing, then such horse shall not be a final acceptor for this race." (This will reduce the likelihood of scratchings from the race).
In announcing the changes to the 2011 Melbourne Cup race conditions, VRC Chief Executive Dale Monteith explained the reasoning behind the new conditions :
"The VRC Board's decision to bring the Melbourne Cup nomination deadline closer to the race itself will see an entry list that is more compact & relevant. Horses that unexpectedly perform well in August (whether in Australia or overseas) should not be 'stranded' outside the entry list. On the other hand, the many horses that do not resume racing until August can be properly assessed by connections & a more informed decision about a nomination can be made, either way."
"A later release of weights will allow the handicapper to see more early Spring race form unfold & this can only result in a better handicap. The Melbourne Cup will have a list of weights that is more representative of the various entrants' respective racing abilities, when the race is run."
"The changes to weight penalty & balloting clause criteria in the race conditions take the Melbourne Cup to a higher level, as the race continues its evolution as the staying championship of the world."