Racing NSW has doubled down on its commitment to the Sydney spring carnival, with Australia's second richest race, the $7.5m Golden Eagle for 4-year-olds, to be run at Rosehill over 1500m on the same day as VRC Derby Day at Flemington.
The Golden Eagle will now be linked with the two other marquee Rosehill races, the G1 Golden Rose, for 3-year-olds, and the G1 Golden Slipper S., for 2-year-olds, as part of the Golden Slam, with a $5m bonus on offer for any horse that can win those three races over consecutive seasons.
Racing NSW also confirmed that another new race, the Bondi Stakes, will be held the week prior worth $1 million for 3-year-olds, while the existing 2-year-old race, the Golden Gift, will also be worth $1 million and be held a week after the Golden Eagle.
With Australia's richest race, The Everest, to be held on October 19 in 2019, it means that the Sydney spring will now extend to 10 weeks and overlaps directly with the peak races of the Melbourne spring carnival, including the Melbourne Cup carnival at Flemington.
“We believe The Golden Eagle will be attractive in retaining our top 3-year-olds to race on as 4-year-olds and benefit the racing industry." - Racing NSW chairman, Russell Balding
“The Golden Eagle is the first feature race on the Australian racing calendar exclusively for 4-year-old horses,” Russell Balding, Racing NSW chairman, said.
“We believe The Golden Eagle will be attractive in retaining our top 3-year-olds to race on as 4-year-olds and benefit the racing industry, underpinning the strength of racing in NSW and Australia more broadly."
Racing NSW CEO Peter V'landys, the brainchild of the concept, confirmed the new race will be funded by new revenues into the NSW racing industry, with exact details to come in the following weeks.
Ten per cent of prizemoney, around $750,000, will be distributed to charities, with owners nominating the registered charity they wish to donate to.
Rosehill key to western drive
V'landys said the location of the new race at Rosehill was part of a concerted push to promote the sport in Sydney's booming western suburbs.
“We want to bring another major event to the western suburbs of Sydney. In the Golden Eagle, we have provided a race that is also a celebration of the west of Sydney," he said.
"In the Golden Eagle, we have provided a race that is also a celebration of the west of Sydney." - Peter V'landys
“Now having the third richest race on turf in the world behind The Everest and France’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Sydney’s west has the perfect day to celebrate,” he said.
Balding said that continued innovation was crucial to racing remaining relevant to a broader audience.
"We’ve seen the public and the race crowds respond to the Everest. These initiatives announced will ensure that spring will be an even more exciting time for racing in Sydney and in particular Western Sydney," he said.
"What we’ve announced today will not only be good for NSW and Sydney, but it will be good for Australian racing."
"In any industry today, if you don’t keep re-inventing yourself and don’t go for a younger demographic or a new generation coming through, you will not survive, you will perish."
Carnival clashes good for racing
Balding dismissed any suggestion that the establishment of feature races in conflict with the heart of the Melbourne spring risked damaging the overall strength of Australian racing.
"Racing is a very competitive sport and this is also in the heart of our spring carnival. We believe we need to expand and strengthen our spring carnival, and that's for the benefit of racing in NSW, but I also think it will complement racing in Australia," he said.
Balding said the increased turnover and interest in racing from the first two runnings of The Everest, which clashed with the Caulfield Guineas, showed there was benefit to everyone from extending the Sydney spring.
What's in a name?
The Golden Eagle name was selected from around 20 suggested to a focus group.
"You need a name that is going to have international attraction. People have to know what it means," V'landys said. "It’s a bird that flies high and we are hoping that Sydney racing with this initiative will fly high."
"You need a name that is going to have international attraction. People have to know what it means." - Peter V'landys
More importantly, V'landys is confident that the concept will incentivise trainers and owners to race on with their horses into their 4-year-old year.
"We lose millions and millions of dollars in turnover and betting revenue with horses who don’t continue to race. I've always been told, by trainers of the highest ilk that a horse is at its peak as a 4-year-old," he said.
Bondi a lure for 3-year-olds
The formation of the Bondi S. will provide incentives for horses who come through the feature 3-year-old races of the early Sydney spring such as the Golden Rose S. and the Flight S, to campaign on in Sydney.
Balding also said the boost given to the 1100m Golden Gift, which was first run in 2015, would provide a focal point for 2-year-olds in the spring.
"With prizemoney of $1m, it will virtually ensure that the first two horses will qualify for the Golden Slipper and other feature races for 2-year-olds in the autumn." - Russell Balding
"It creates a significant highlight race for 2-year-olds at that time of year," he said.
"With prizemoney of $1m, it will virtually ensure that the first two horses will qualify for the Golden Slipper and other feature races for 2-year-olds in the autumn."
Racing NSW are expected to make further significant announcements regarding spring programming and the funding of the Golden Eagle over the coming months.