The Mackinnon Stakes is to be moved from the first day of the Melbourne Cup carnival in the hope of enticing greater international participation.
The Mackinnon (2000m), which will double in prize money to $2 million and be known as the Emirates Stakes, switches places with the original 1600m-race of that name which is now the Longines Mile on the first day of the four-day meeting.
The Mackinnon Stakes was once a traditional lead-up to the Melbourne Cup three days later but in recent years has become less of a factor.
The late Bart Cummings, the winner of 12 Melbourne Cups, often used the race for his runners’ final lead-up.
VRC chief executive Simon Love said the decision to transfer the Mackinnon Stakes was not taken lightly.
“There is always debate when there is a race that is iconic on the Australian racing calendar,” Love told Melbourne radio station RSN.
“The Mackinnon Stakes has been around for a long period of time and some of the iconic Australian horses have won it.”
Love said he hoped the prize money and the timing of the race two weeks after the $3 million Cox Plate would make the Mackinnon appealing to international trainers.
He said it may be a viable alternative to Champions day at Ascot in mid-October or the Breeders’ Cup meeting on the same day as the Emirates Stakes.
“We’re hoping that trainers bringing a Melbourne Cup horse may consider bringing a mile-and-a-quarter (2000m) horse for the Cox Plate and the Mackinnon and we think it could be an ideal lead-in to the Hong Kong international series as well,” Love said.
Love hopes that running the Longines Mile on the opening day of the carnival may result in the quality handicap also becoming a lead-up race to the Emirates Stakes.