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Racing Victoria (RV) has today released its 2016-17 racing calendar which will feature 557 race meetings across the state from 1 August to 31 July – the same number as the current season.

The 2016-17 program has been determined by RV following a collaborative process with clubs and stakeholders which saw feedback considered from a draft of the race dates circulated in December 2015.

Following is a summary of the features and changes within the 2016-17 Victorian racing calendar:

  • Night racing expansion – For the first time more than 10% of Victorian meetings will be conducted at night, with the expansion of the state’s night racing circuit to 57 meetings across three venues – Moonee Valley, Cranbourne and Park (Pakenham). A total of 42 night meetings will be conducted during the 2015-16 racing season, with nine twilight meetings also held at Park (Pakenham). The 57 night meetings are split as follows: one Wednesday (Australia Day Eve), 20 Thursdays, 34 Fridays and two Saturdays;
  • Pakenham Standalone Saturday – As announced last Thursday by RV, Park (Pakenham) will stage its inaugural standalone Saturday on 3 December, 2016 – a metropolitan meeting headlined by the Pakenham Cup. This will see the number of standalone Saturday country meetings increase from three to four next season. The country standalone Saturdays in 2016-17 are:
    • Sportsbet-BallaratCupmeetingon19November,2016
    • Racing.comPark-PakenhamCupmeetingon3December,2016 o MorningtonCupmeetingon25March,2017
    • BendigoGoldenMilemeetingon1April,2017;
  • Weekend restructure – To facilitate the increase in night meetings next season and promote continued growth in wagering on Saturday country meetings since the launch of, there has been a shift in the programming of weekend country meetings in 2016-17. The number of Sundays with only one meeting scheduled will increase from 13 to 25 with nine-race cards to be held on single- meeting Sundays. Conversely, the number of Saturdays with a metropolitan meeting only will reduce from 10 in 2015-16 to four in 2016-17 with the switch of country meetings from Sundays to Saturdays;
  • Spring Racing Carnival – With the AFL Grand Final again programmed as an afternoon match on the first Saturday in October, the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes meeting at Flemington will be run on the Sunday after the Grand Final – 2 October – for the second year running. Moonee Valley’s Group 1 Moir Stakes meeting will remain on Grand Final eve – 30 September – with Country Cup meetings to be run at Benalla and Gunbower that afternoon on what is a public holiday within Victoria;
  • Flemington Autumn switch – The transfer of Flemington’s early April meeting to Saturday, 18 March, 2017 which will allow the Victorian Racing Club (VRC) a five week track renovation period leading into its traditional Anzac Day meeting. As a result, meetings are programmed at Flemington on the first three Saturdays in March 2017 with the iconic Super Saturday set down for 11 March;
  • New Year’s Eve feature – Moonee Valley will hold a twilight meeting on Saturday, 31 December, 2016 to coincide with the feature Perth Cup meeting being conducted in Western Australia; and
  • Meeting breakdown – The 557 race meetings programmed across the 2016-17 season are categorised as follows; 109 metropolitan, 415 country and 33 picnic.

    RV Executive General Manager – Racing, Greg Carpenter, said RV is continually striving to enhance the racing calendar and maximise opportunities in line with RV’s Strategic Plan.

    “Our priority in scheduling the race dates for the 2016-17 season is to build engagement and wagering for our local and international audiences in line with our Strategic Plan through the expansion of night racing, as well as the showcasing of key country race meetings throughout the year,” Carpenter said.

    “The introduction of a fourth standalone Saturday meeting with the Pakenham Cup on 3 December ensures that we continue to promote great racing in country Victoria; it further develops interest in the sport outside of the traditional metropolitan features; and provides an important point of difference in our racing calendar.

    “After launching Thursday night racing last week, Victoria’s youngest racecourse will also play host to more than a third of the state’s night racing circuit with 21 night meetings scheduled at Park for the season. Night racing now makes up over 10 percent of all Victorian meetings for the first time.”

    The decision to restructure the spread of country race meetings across a number of weekends was driven, in-part, by the positive performance of these meetings since the launch of the national free-to-air broadcast in late August 2015.

    “We have seen positive wagering growth on our weekend country race meetings with the nationwide coverage afforded by and our broadcast partners so we are looking to capitalise upon this in building our program for next season, across what are traditionally non-feature meetings,” Carpenter said.

    “Our Saturday country meeting is currently generating more wagering turnover than our second-tier country meeting on a Sunday so we believe there are benefits for the industry in re-aligning the allocation of country meetings on a number of weekends throughout 2016-17.”

    Carpenter said the decision to move a Flemington meeting from April to March would allow the VRC additional time to rejuvenate their track to better prepare it for the Spring Racing Carnival.

    “This year we transferred the 9 April Flemington meeting to Sandown in order to provide a five week period of renovation for the track so next season we have factored that into the Autumn racing period which will see the VRC host three Saturdays in a row in March 2017,” Carpenter said.

    Carpenter extended his appreciation to the Clubs – who have today been issued with a copy of their final race dates for the 2016-17 season – for their valued contribution to the compilation of the racing calendar.

    “I wish to acknowledge and thank the clubs and the stakeholder groups that have participated in formulating the 2016-17 race dates. It is always a challenge to balance the wishes of all parties, however the desire to grow and develop the sport remains common to all,” Carpenter said.