Horses clear the jumps in front of the grandstand during the Grand Annual Steeplechase at Warrnambool.Jumping owners, trainers and jockeys are outraged by the decision of Racing Victoria to strip $130,000 in prizemoney from two of the big races of the season following the abandonment of Warrnambool races.
The two feature jumps races on the card have been moved to Sandown, but not so all of the $200,000 prizemoney.
RVL said that both races would be reopened for entries but said that the naming of the events would not be the same and that $50,000 would be taken from the purse of each race.
There had already been a hurdle programmed for the fixture on Wednesday, worth $30,000. That race will now be merged into the Kevin Lafferty Hurdle, that was abandoned.
Trainer Robert Smerdon, who is currently the most successful jumping trainer in the state, said that the community was “baffled” by the reinstating of the races without the names or the prizemoney.
“In just 72 hours we have two flagship jumps races that have seen their prizemoney halved. In fact with the hurdle being amalgamated they’ve saved $70,000 (on one race).
“Does that mean that if a Bendigo Cup had to be moved because of bad weather, would this see the prizemoney halved? I doubt it,” Smerdon said.
RVL operations manager Paul Bloodworth defended the decision maintaining that they were keeping faith with jumping people, but the races with all of Warrnambool identities in Wednesday would be a different scenario.
“We will look at redistributing the $130,000 but at the same time we have created a hurdle and steeple so horses from yesterday will get a start.
“People should remember that yesterday in Victoria we lost both our meetings at Ballarat and Warrnambool. That means that there’s been no wagering in racing in this state yesterday,” Bloodworth said.
However jumps people were infuriated that RVL would be so “opportunistic” at withholding the prizemoney and were also questioning why the $40,000 Winter Championship Plate, a key heat to the final next Saturday, was also not moved to Sandown on Wednesday.
The Warrnambool Racing Club were naturally disappointed that the $100,000 Kevin Lafferty Hurdle and the Thackeray, another $100,000 event, could not be staged at Warrnambool after the track was waterlogged by a week of heavy rain.
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