Racing Victoria will consider a schedule reshuffle this time next year to make its “race-free week” more appealing.
After Sunday meetings at Sale and Warracknabeal there will be no Victorian thoroughbred races until The Valley and Pakenham (synthetic) next Saturday (July 31).
The five-day break has been on the agenda since March 2020, following a wide-ranging consultation with participant groups, but only recently drawn the ire of some trainers.
The vocal cohort has argued the break will make no difference to workloads as horses must still be fed and exercised daily.
Despite the bubbling angst, RV Executive General Manager Racing Greg Carpenter said the trial would go ahead as planned next week.
“We certainly didn’t foresee, when we made this announcement and even probably a couple of weeks ago, that everyone would be back in lockdown,” Carpenter said.
“Some people are saying put races on, it will be a wagering bonanza …(but the break) is an initiative we think is worth pursuing.
“We’re not going to retreat now and just put meetings on to try and capitalise on a captive audience.
“Feedback (from trainers) is useful because we can look at what race meetings are programmed around the break (next year).
“We’ve got to the precipice of this trial, it will go ahead and we‘ll be informed by the learnings from it as to how we go or navigate it in the future.”
It is accepted the schedule leading up to the break with provincial meetings at Mildura (Friday and Saturday), Sale, and Warracknabeal has made it hard travel-wise for greater Melbourne-based trainers.
“It’s entirely possible, working within the existing number of race meetings, if we proceed with it (next season), and I’m not saying we won’t, but the flexibility is there. We just move race dates out and back in.”
RV added provincial meetings on available Saturdays and Sundays in June-July to make up for the race-free week — meaning the total number of meetings, prizemoney and bonuses annually remains the same.
“We understand horses have to be fed and exercised but there’s a lot of people involved in the industry other than trainers and (stable) staff,” Carpenter said.
“It’s true, trainers and staff have to turn up and care for their horses every day.
“When we went to race-free Mondays (nine programmed from December to March) we got the same feedback: ‘We have to feed the horses’.
“It’s not just about trainers and staff, (race-free respite) also about jockeys, form analysts, broadcasters, everyone involved in the industry, there is no break from race day.
“It’s five days off for everyone who’s caught up in the daily grind and daily cycle of racing.”
Originally published asRV defends merits of race-free week
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