Cover image courtesy of Bronwen Healy
As recently as February, Racing NSW announced prizemoney increases of $25 million to its racing calendar. New additions included the pair of $2 million races, The Big Dance and The Five Diamonds, while minimum levels of prizemoney were hiked across the board.
On Wednesday, Racing NSW revealed its second significant prizemoney hike, with a further $30 million in prizemoney increases. It also revealed a record level of infrastructure investment, with $125 million to be tipped into the industry via an infrastructure project fund across the next two years.
There were plenty of facets to Wednesday’s announcement, including a new Sydney Sprint Series through the spring and autumn feature-race increases.
Prizemoney distribution was also shaken up, with the 1.5 per cent strappers’ bonus increased to two per cent of prizemoney, and the Equine Welfare Fund jumping from 1 per cent to 1.5 per cent.
“This morning, we’re not only announcing further increases in prizemoney totalling some $30 million per annum, effective from September 1,” said Russell Balding, the chairman of Racing NSW.
“We also wanted to outline an expanded, state-wide racing infrastructure program which is being jointly funded by the State Government in partnership with Racing NSW, plus an increase in funding for our very important Equine Welfare Fund program.”
Wednesday’s announcement will see total prizemoney in New South Wales racing increase to $358 million per annum, which is more than triple the equivalent figure a decade ago.
Prizemoney increases and changes in the distribution of prizemoney will be effective across the state from September 1.
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Sydney’s spring program was a significant recipient in this latest round of prizemoney increases, flagging the growing importance of the spring carnival in the state’s racing climate.
The G3 Concorde S. will climb from $160,000 to $500,000, and the G2 The Shorts will double in value from $500,000 to $1 million, as will the G2 Premiere S.
The Kosciuszko’s overall prizemoney will go from $1.3 million to $2 million, and the Sydney S. receives a significant spike in value, with prizemoney increasing 200 per cent, from $500,000 to $2 million.
The Nature Strip S. (Winner's S.) will climb similarly from $1 million to $3 million.
In addition to these, Racing NSW has added two new races to its spring carnival program.
In support of its February announcement of The Five Diamonds, the $1 million Five Diamond Prelude will occur over 1500 metres for 5-year-olds as a lead-up to The Five Diamonds, while The Little Dance, a new $500,000 race, will feature on The Big Dance card for eligible horses that didn’t get a start in the main race.
The overall increases will make The Everest raceday a bigger than ever banner for Racing NSW this year.
“Total prizemoney for Everest Day will now be a staggering $21.8 million, which far exceeds any other race meeting in Australia,” Balding said. “It cements Everest Day’s place on the international stage of premier racing.”
“Total prizemoney for The Everest Day will now be a staggering $21.8 million, which far exceeds any other race meeting in Australia.” – Russell Balding
Sydney’s key autumn races also received a boost on Wednesday, with the G1 Queen Elizabeth leaping from $4 million to $5 million, and the G1 Doncaster Mile going from $3 million to $4 million.
The G1 TJ Smith S. will now be worth $3 million, an increase of half-a-million dollars, while both the G1 The Galaxy and G1 Ranvet S. climb in value from $700,000 to $1 million.
$6 million Sprint Series
In-hand with its prizemoney announcements, Racing NSW also revealed its new $6 million Sportsbet Sydney Sprint Series, which groups many of the spring’s popular sprint races into a points system.
The six chosen races are the G3 Concorde S. on September 3, the G2 The Shorts on September 17, the G2 Premiere S. on October 1, The Everest and Sydney S. on October 15, and the Nature Strip S. on October 29.
Between them, these races will carry points, with five points awarded to the winner, four for second, three for third and so on, with one point awarded for fifth.
Double points will be awarded for the Nature Strip S. on Golden Eagle Day, with a specific condition of the series being that horses must compete in at least three of the six races to qualify for the bonus.
The $6 million bonus, fully sponsored by Sportsbet with no input from Racing NSW, will be paid to the horses that have won the most points across the six-race Series. It’s a significant new attraction for Sydney’s spring carnival, one that arose from some of these races becoming important lead-up events to The Everest.
The $6 million bonus, fully sponsored by Sportsbet with no input from Racing NSW, will be paid to the horses that have won the most points across the six-race Series.
Racing NSW stated that these surrounding sprint features had earned increasing interest in the years since The Everest’s inception and, as a result, significant betting turnover.
V’Landys said one of the aims of the Series was to encourage the best sprinters to remain in the state throughout the spring.
“The Everest has made those horses well-known throughout Australia, and it’s only fair they stay in New South Wales because we’re the ones that have made them household names,” he said. “We’re the ones that have highlighted sprint racing in Australia, so now the $6 million bonus will encourage them to stay for the Series and, in particular, the Nature Strip S. on Golden Eagle Day.”
Wednesday’s announcement brought new levels of prizemoney to the state’s country racing sector, with minimum levels increasing across the board.
Picnic meetings will increase their minimum purse levels from $5000 to $7000, while non-TAB meetings jump from $10,000 to $12,000.
Those meetings on the Sky 2 broadcast will go from $15,000 to $16,000, while country TAB meetings will have minimum prizemoney levels of $27,000, up from $25,000.
Additionally, Racing NSW has declared that two races at every country meeting will now be restricted to New South Wales country-trained horses only. Likely, this comes as an effort to address the flow of metro and provincial trainers, and even interstate trainers, into country areas for good purses.
“Country has received the majority of prizemoney increases over the last 10 years,” said Peter V’Landys on Wednesday, addressing the Racing NSW press conference. “The country sector has gone from $5000 a race to $27,000 a race. However, because of the attractive prizemoney, there are metropolitan and provincial trainers going there.
“So what we’ve decided to do is make two races, and possibly three races, for country trainers only. We want to keep our country trainers viable and that’s why we’ve done what we’ve done today.”
“Country has received the majority of prizemoney increases over the last 10 years. The country sector has gone from $5000 a race to $27,000 a race. However, because of the attractive prizemoney, there are metropolitan and provincial trainers going there... that's why we've done what we've done today.” – Peter V'Landys
These country-restricted races will carry prizemoney of $30,000, while country showcase meetings will be worth $35,000.
“New South Wales country racing is the bedrock of our industry, and it’s important therefore that we ensure its ongoing viability and the sustainability of our country trainers,” Balding added.
In addition to these announcements, provincial racing received some attention.
Racing NSW has announced that two races at every provincial meeting will carry minimum prizemoney of $45,000, and one of these races will be restricted to provincially trained horses only. The other will be restricted to Midway-trained horses only.
And, building on Racing NSW’s success with the Midway and Highway programs, prizemoney for these races will leap from $100,000 to $120,000 at Saturday metropolitan meetings.
The infrastructure element of Wednesday’s announcement will be welcomed across the New South Wales racing industry.
To the tune of $125 million, an infrastructure project fund will be delivered by Racing NSW over the next two years for the construction of stables, new training tracks, works to the course proper of various clubs, customer facilities, raceday amenities and jockeys’ rooms.
The allocation of these funds will be tailored by Racing NSW, which will work with state-wide clubs and participants, and the fund includes $70 million in grants from the State Government, with the remaining $55 million tipped in by Racing NSW.
“We’ve got a number of clubs that we’ve already started doing application developments with through councils, in particular stable developments,” V’Landys said. “There is now a substantial demand for stables from interstate and overseas trainers to come into NSW, so that’s already started.
“We’ve done all the polytracks and we’re going to look at all the course propers to ensure proper drainage. No matter what drainage you have, the weather we’ve had would have called any race meeting off, but we will still look at all our tracks and make sure they’ve got the world’s best drainage in those facilities.”
Welfare and workers
The Equine Welfare Fund has been ongoing with Racing NSW since October 2016 and, up until Wednesday, it meant that one per cent of all prizemoney was allocated to the care, retraining and rehoming of New South Wales thoroughbreds.
Russell Balding said this figure fell short of the $3.7 million that Racing NSW currently spends annually on the program and, as a result, the Equine Welfare Fund will now receive 1.5 per cent of total prizemoney.
“Over recent years, we’ve spent $33 million from Racing NSW reserves on acquiring some 3100 acres and developing infrastructure on those properties for our Equine Welfare programs,” Balding said.
“Notwithstanding the significant increases in prizemoney we’ve achieved over recent years, it’s important that we continue to invest significantly in the welfare of our main participants in this industry – our horses.”
“Notwithstanding the significant increases in prizemoney we’ve achieved over recent years, it’s important that we continue to invest significantly in the welfare of our main participants in this industry – our horses.” – Russell Balding
In the same vein, Racing NSW will increase its strappers’ bonus from 1.5 per cent to two per cent from September 1 as a nod to some of the industry’s most critical and lowest-paid workers.
The strappers’ bonus was instigated by Racing NSW in July 2012, the first state in the country to do so.
|Picnic minimum prizemoney||$5,000||$7,000||$2,000|
|Country Non-TAB minimum prizemoney||$10,000||$12,000||$2,000|
|Country Sky2 minimum prizemoney||$15,000||$16,000||$1,000|
|Country TAB minimum prizemoney||$25,000||$27,000||$2,000|
|Country trained only - two races per program, possibly three||$25,000||$30,000||$5,000|
|Showcase country trained only - two races per program, possibly three||$30,000||$35,000||$5,000|
|Provincial only and Midway races - two races per Provincial program||$40,000||$45,000||$5,000|
Table: NSW minimum prizemoney increase
|Five Diamond Prelude||-||$1,000,000.00||$1,000,000.00|
|The Little Dance||$50,000.00||$500,000.00||$450,000.00|
|Other Big Dance Day races||-||$500,000.00||$500,000.00|
|Sportsbet Sydney Sprint Series bonus||-||$6,000,000.00||$6,000,000.00|
Table: NSW Spring carnival prizemoney increase
|Queen Elizabeth S.||$4,000,000.00||$5,000,000.00||$1,000,000.00|
|TJ Smith S.||$2,500,000.00||$3,000,000.00||$500,000.00|
Table: NSW Autumn carnival prizemoney increase