New race for country talent
THE start of the new racing season on August 1 coincided with the announcement of significant changes to Sydney and NSW racing, namely the introduction of nine-race Sydney Saturday programs, an increase in the minimum topweights and changes to racing’s whip rules.
Perhaps the most important is the addition of an extra race on Sydney’s premier Saturday race meetings.
From December 1, Racing NSW will introduce a ninth race to metropolitan Saturday race programs that will be restricted to countrytrained horses. These races, called the Highway Handicap and carrying $40,000 prizemoney, will provide an entry-level opportunity for bush gallopers to race in Sydney for bigger stakes.
“The Highway races will provide country trainers the encouragement to tackle city racing and give country owners the added thrill of having their horse race in Sydney on a Saturday,” Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys said.
“This represents an important further step by Racing NSW to build the vibrancy of racing in this state by featuring our crucial country sector.’’
New whip rules from Racing Australia include removing the distinction between forehand and backhand whip strikes, meaning jockeys will be limited to using the whip five times before the final 100m of a race, and stronger penalties for breaches of whip rules. They take effect on December 1. FOLLOW WATERHOUSE THE first stakes races of the new season will be run at Royal Randwick on Saturday, with the Group 2 $175,000 Missile Stakes (1200m) and the Listed $100,000 The Rosebud (1200m).
My tip is to follow the Gai Waterhouse stable as her runners are invariably hard to beat on their home track.