Manikato Stakes move headlines major changes to Spring Carnival schedule

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Racing (RV) confirmed on Wednesday morning the primary structure of the Victorian Spring Racing Carnival program, announcing some key enhancements for 2023.

Several races will have new dates in 2023, most notably the shift of the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m).

Held traditionally on the Friday night before the Cox Plate, the Group 1 sprint will now be held on the same day as Australia's weight-for-age championship, based on the success it had in 2022 when severe weather forced the postponement of the Manikato.

The last-minute change delivered a significant increase in fan interest and wagering, which underpins the decision for a permanent switch in 2023.

The Group 2 (2500m) will now move from the Cox Plate Day program to become the feature race on the opening night of the carnival at Moonee Valley – Friday, October 27, 2023.

As part of a review of the Spring Racing Carnival, the RV board had been considering whether to move the Cox Plate from its existing position in late October to late November, two weeks after the .

However, RV has opted to keep the Cox Plate in its traditional timeslot between the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup.

The Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m) for three-year-old fillies, traditionally held on the Wednesday of the Caulfield Cup Carnival, is also on the move, with the race now to be run on Saturday, November 18, 2023.

The race will also receive an increase in from $1 million to $1.5 million.

The Group 1 (1400m) will receive the same increase in prizemoney and will move from its September slot to co-feature alongside the Thousand Guineas.

The new meeting at Caulfield will also feature the Group 3 , which moves from the Caulfield Cup Carnival in October, increases from 1200m to 1400m in distance, and goes from $200,000 to $500,000 in prizemoney.

also announced that joining the meeting will be a new $1 million Country Cups final run over 2000m which will bring together the best performers from Victoria's 55 Country Cups.

Further details regarding the series name, conditions and points system will be announced over coming weeks.

To assist with programming towards the Thousand Guineas, the $300,000 Group 2 Thousand Guineas Prelude (1400m) will move from September to Day – Saturday, October 14, 2023.

In creating this new feature raceday, RV believes that it better showcases the Thousand Guineas, racing on a Saturday as opposed to a Wednesday; creates a better progression for three-year-old fillies and middle-distance handicappers; and provides a fitting climax to the state's 55 Country Cups.

With the introduction of the new Caulfield feature meeting on November 18, RV has announced that:

  • The Cranbourne Cup meeting will move back one week to Saturday, November 25, and the Ballarat Cup meeting will move back two weeks to Saturday, December 9;
  • The Classic meeting will remain in its current timeslot at Caulfield, three weeks after the Melbourne Cup Carnival on Saturday, December 2;
  • Discussions regarding the programming of the Pakenham Cup will continue with the Pakenham Racing Club on the best suitable alternative date to that now occupied by the Ballarat Cup;
  • The Wednesday meeting during Caulfield Cup Week will be retained at Caulfield on October 18 with the program to be determined;
  • RV and MRC will also continue discussions around the program for September 23 at Caulfield, where the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes was previously domiciled.

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