An innovative five-year Group Racing proposal put together by Victoria’s two metropolitan clubs has been approved by the Board of Greyhound Racing Victoria. As a result the Melbourne Greyhound Racing Association (MGRA), which races at The Meadows, and the Sandown Greyhound Racing Club will each introduce annual mini-carnivals.
These mini-carnivals will be in addition to, and compliment the Australian Cup Carnival (MGRA), run traditionally in February/March and the Sandown Superdogs series run in November.
Significantly, the first new mini-carnival will now see The Meadows hosting the Group 1 Topgun every year towards the end of October – previously the Topgun alternated between the metropolitan clubs.
The programming of the Topgun on the night of thoroughbred racing’s Cox Plate has been a resounding success and was a key driver behind the metropolitan plan.
In agreeing to relinquish this rotation of the Topgun – which is one of Victoria’s three biggest races – Sandown have opted to create a minicarnival around Australia’s premier distance event, the Group 1 Sandown Cup.
As part of this new carnival, Sandown will also introduce a significant new sprint race and the Sandown Cup prize money will receive a substantial boost. The 2009 Sandown Cup will hence become Australia’s first $100,000 to the winner staying Event.
Another benefit at both venues is an agreement to increase prize money on offer for Grade 5 finals, with first prize jumping from $7,000 to $10,000 from July 1, 2009.
The proposal also provides for the strategic alignment of Victoria’s age restricted metropolitan classic features from 2011-12, from which time the Laurels (bitches only) will be scheduled to coincide with The Silver Chief (male greyhounds) in December/January.
At the same time, the age-restricted Maturity Classic, which is open to both male and female greyhounds, will be put back to July to ensure that these three events are appropriately spaced, maximising the opportunity for Victorian participants.
MGRA Chairman Eddie Caruana is particularly upbeat about the changes.
“It’s a win-win for everybody. The MGRA is rapt to get the Topgun each year, particularly as it falls on the night of the Cox Plate.”
“At this time of year (late October) people are excited about racing and we’ve found that a lot of race goers come to the Topgun after a day at the Cox Plate. So betting turnover on-course and off-course is huge”, he said.
Sandown Chairman Geoff Dawson is equally thrilled.
“Sandown is delighted with the outcomes of recent negotiations with GRV and the MGRA in relation to the future of metropolitan racing in Victoria.”
“From our perspective, the changes will allow the Club to build the appropriate structure around the Sandown Cup going forward. We are excited about the future of metropolitan racing in this state and are committed to ensuring that opportunities for Victorian participants remain at the forefront of the national industry”, said Dawson, the 2007 Ken Carr Medalist.
Benefits of the changes include:
- The Topgun to be based at The Meadows effective immediately
- 2009 Australian Cup increased to $215,000 ($150,000 to the winner) with a total series value of $365,000 Topgun and Sandown Cup to offer stakes of $143,000 from 2008-9
(each $100,000 to the winner)
- All Grade 5 metropolitan finals worth $10,000 to the winner from 2009-10
- The introduction of a new sprint feature at Sandown supporting the Sandown Cup from 2008-9