Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners Association (TROA) chairman, Jonathan Munz, has urged Racing Victoria (RV) to use common sense and reduce its own overheads and inefficiencies and rein in “pet projects” before pursuing any proposed prizemoney cuts.
In recent days, RV announced a move to reduce prizemoney, with general manager of racing, Matt Welsh telling RV media business, Racing.com, that there will be prizemoney cuts across a “broad cross-section” of races in 2023-24. This is in response to a reported decline in wagering this year.
Influential owner-breeder Munz said: “Before RVL considers reducing prizemoney it needs to reduce overheads and inefficiencies at RVL - I understand they are also looking at that, and that is a good thing. And after they have addressed that, they need to look at existing misallocations in prizemoney to reduce or avoid the need to reduce mainstream prize money levels for Saturday, mid-week and country races. The misallocation that sticks out is the $5 million allocated to the All Star Mile plus a reputed hefty $2 million marketing budget for that race. The obvious thing to do is to reduce the prize money for that race to $2 million and abolish the marketing budget. That stands out as low hanging fruit and saves you $5 million. We and most other people in the industry have advised RVL for a number of years that the All Star Mile was overcooked and that the $5 million saving I have proposed would be better re-allocated to other prize money. In that regard, I am not being critical of the race and it would still be really good and worthy of Group One status as a $2 million race, as I propose. Unfortunately, it is a pet project of some people at RVL, but clearly not an indulgence they can afford.”
Munz also noted that RV has “promised” to consult with TROA on prizemoney changes for the 2023-24 season but as yet offered no details on where the cuts are proposed. “Let’s see the background details, let’s see the proposal and let’s consult,” Munz said. “Unfortunately, up until now, they have failed to adequately consult and listen to industry participants and experts and this needs to change.”
Munz was also highly critical of RV’s recently announced changes to the Spring Carnival program and noted they also included misallocations of prize money that could yield savings that could be used for other prize money. He labelled the race program announced for Caulfield the week after Melbourne Cup week as a “fiasco”. In particular, he noted that the proposed shifting out by 5 weeks of the Group One Thousand Guineas for 3yo fillies to that day was “crazy” as it would give those fillies inadequate time to prepare for the autumn, result in a worse race (being isolated at the end of the Spring with inadequate lead up races and after the attrition of a full carnival) and undermine the Australian Pattern and sport. Munz stated: “The Thousand Guineas must stay where it is . The best day for it is 3 days later than currently, on Caulfield Cup day. You’ll get a better field and keep the continuity into the VRC Oaks and the Empire Rose and most importantly, be able to get those horses ready for the autumn. What RVL is proposing cannot work as you will be a month behind for races in the Autumn. This is a very serious problem.”
“In relation to that problem of not having sufficient time to prepare for the Autumn, the detailed analysis of the timing constraints that give rise to that problem are as follows: If RVL’s later Thousand Guineas race date was used last year, the race would have been run on 12 November in 2022. Then to prepare for the Autumn, those fillies would have needed a minimum spell of 4 weeks (ending 10 December in 2022) followed by a minimum of 8 weeks work (ending 4 February in 2023), then 2 trials spaced appropriately (around 2 weeks apart which takes you to a first up run over 1200 metres on 4 March 2023). A second up run would usually occur 3 weeks later over 1400 metres (2 weeks is usually considered to risk flattening a horse second up), which would have been on 25 March 2023. The two logical autumn targets under 1600m in the Autumn for those fillies coming out of the Thousand Guineas in the Spring are the Group One 1400 metre Surround Stakes in Sydney for 3yo fillies, the Group One 1600m Australian Guineas and Group One 1600m Randwick Guineas (open 3yos) and the Group One 1500m Coolmore Classic (fillies and mares). Based on the timeline set out above, you would have been a month late for each of those races, as the Surround Stakes was run on 25 February 2023, the Australian Guineas and Randwick Guineas were both held on 4 March 2023 and the Coolmore Classic was held on 11 March 2023, with those longer races requiring at least two lead up races, rather than one lead up race for the Surround Stakes. This analysis is clear and indisputable.”
“And as far as misallocations go, the $1 million proposed for the Country Cups final on the new Caulfield race day makes no sense and is a total waste of money. It should be scrapped or reduced to $200,000. Similarly, it is a waste of money increasing the Rupert Clarke Stakes from $1 million to $1.5 million. It is a handicap and you won’t get any better field .The money is better allocated to mainstream prize money and the race should remain where it is. Similarly, the proposed increase in the Blue Sapphire from $200,000 to $500,000 and increase in distance to 1400m makes no sense. It is a race looking for a purpose. ”
Munz noted that he was not opposed to the new Caulfield feature race day, only the cost and selection of races. “We have tried to work with RVL to tell them that what they propose does not work, but they don’t listen. If they want a good race meeting, they need to put on appropriate races and make sure that they do not undermine the Australian Pattern or prevent horses preparing for the Autumn carnivals. And if they are claiming that they are short of funds, then should not waste it by misallocating prize money.”
“We have suggested a much better race program for the new Caulfield feature race day. That alternative program has the backing of the major owners, breeders and trainers and costs no more. It involves shifting the Group One WFA Orr Stakes from the Autumn, so that race day attracts the best weight for age horses and introducing a new 3yo fillies Group One 1200m race, which would be a great addition. Added to those headline races would be a Magic millions 2yo qualifier race, moving the Sandown Guineas and Summoned Stakes from Zipping Stakes day and having a lower cost version of the Country Cups final race proposed by RVL. In that scenario, Zipping Stakes day would be reinforced with a new 2000m 3yo race to be called the Melbourne Derby which you would target to be a Listed or Group 3 race. That new race would progress from the Carbine Club Stakes and Sandown Guineas and be used as a springboard for later developing stayers looking to target Adelaide and Brisbane in the following Autumn and Winter. The Blue Sapphire Stakes would also shift to Zipping day, remaining as a 1200m 3yo race worth $200,000. The Thousand Guineas would move forward 3 days to Caulfield Cup day and Rupert Clarke would remain where is, so that part of the Spring Carnival is not weakened. This is a far superior program and will not have a negative impact on the Autumn carnivals.”
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