Should Racing Victoria be forced to keep up with NSW?

Robbie Griffiths
Robbie Griffiths fears his owners could leave for Sydney if Racing Victoria doesn’t increase stake money

IT was seen only as a positive at the time, but the increase in NSW prize money has put fear into Victorian trainers.

Victoria’s top trainers fear that their horses and owners will leave for NSW unless Racing Victoria matches the prize money implemented in Sydney earlier this year.

Pressure is being applied on Racing Victoria this week as the Australian Trainers Association, Victorian Jockeys Association and the Thoroughbred Owners Association are taking action ahead of the next board meeting.

NSW increased its stake money significantly following a victory over corporate bookmakers which requires them to pay race-field fees. The minimum purse is now worth $100,000 for Saturday metropolitan races and it’s only $80,000 in Victoria.

Cranbourne trainer Robbie Griffiths, and president of the ATA, believes Racing Victoria needs to act promptly.

“Racing Victoria must act quickly here to protect the future of Victorian racing,” Griffiths said.

Other top trainers are fearful that owners will move to Sydney if Racing Victoria doesn’t match the stake money on offer in NSW, which in result will have a flow-on effect for field sizes in Victoria.

Recent Emirates Stakes-winning trainer Troy Corstens and Coolmore Stud Stakes-winning trainer Mick Price have already lost high-profile owners with Price stating he’s under risk of losing more.

“I have a number of clients who have for years supplied me with quality horses from the Hunter Valley region of NSW,” Price said.

“This is at risk unless RV act immediately.”

The status quo in Victoria is holding well with the average field size at 11, which is the highest in Australia, but this could be under jeopardy as more owners will be attracted to NSW.

Does Racing Victoria need to increase prize money?

Racing in Victoria is booming after yet another successful Melbourne spring carnival and the average field sizes are holding up, so will the difference in prize money between NSW and Victoria make a difference?

There is no doubting the $100,000 minimum metropolitan figure is enticing for owners of all levels, but being competitive in NSW is harder than it appears.

Chris Waller dominates the racing scene in Sydney, especially at the metropolitan level, so unless you’re an owner looking to take your horse to the very best trainers, NSW is a tough place to break through.

On the other hand, there are many smaller stables in Victoria which are picking up some great stake money. Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young came over from New Zealand to Victoria with a handy team of thoroughbreds, so why weren’t they lured by the Sydney prize money?

We believe the landscape of racing in Victoria is stronger than that of NSW. The tracks are better prepared and it currently has three sustainable night meeting tracks with Moonee Valley, Pakenham and Cranbourne.

The prize money might be better in NSW, but winning on a consistent basis seems more attainable in Victoria.

Increasing prize money is one way to keep owners from leaving and it’s an option Racing Victoria should seriously consider, but it’s not all doom and gloom in Victoria and compared to the likes of New Zealand where they race for $10,000 on a premier meeting, it’s not all so bad.

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