The handicap conditions for a number of winter series races at Flemington have been changed to cater for higher quality horses.
With travel restrictions in place and a reduced number of feature races in Queensland during the winter carnival because of the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, all the races on Flemington Finals Day on July 4 will be run under quality handicap conditions.
Racing Victoria and the Victoria Racing Club say the move gives connections of Victorian horses who might normally be competing elsewhere in winter the chance to run in Melbourne and not be weighted out of races.
Seven of the ‘Finals’ races on the July 4 program at Flemington, including the Winter Championship Final (1600m), All Victorian Sprint Series Final (1200m) and Banjo Paterson Series Final (2600m), will have a maximum top weight of 62kg.
The two two-year-old races, the 2YO Sprint Series Final (1200m) and Listed Taj Rossi Series Final (1600m), will be quality handicaps but with a maximum top weight of 61kg.
The minimum weights remain 56kg with apprentices not allowed to claim.
Along with the changes to the Flemington Finals Day program, the heats of the Winter Championship Series, All Victorian Sprint Series, Banjo Paterson Series and Mahogany Challenge at Flemington on June 6 and June 20 will be quality handicaps with a 62kg maximum.
“The VRC and RV recognised that to support the Victorian racing industry during these unprecedented times, including the impact brought about by travel restrictions, we needed to make changes to our racing conditions to accommodate high quality horses during the winter period at Flemington,” VRC executive general manager racing, Leigh Jordon, said.
“Flemington Finals Day is the pinnacle of racing throughout the winter period, and the heats run through May and June allow for quality horses to be featured during this period leading into spring.”
Racing Victoria’s Greg Carpenter said while they had made it clear they would not create new feature races during this period, the changes to handicap conditions for a number of winter races at Flemington struck an appropriate balance.