In a change to the ballot conditions and release of entries for the world’s richest handicap, Racing Victoria has announced that the 2011 Melbourne Cup nominations will close a month later than in previous years.
Flemington’s famous two-mile showdown, the $6 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) is set to run on Tuesday November 1, 2011.
For the past 18 years, connections had until the first week in August to nominate their stayers for the annual Melbourne Cup.
This year, Cup nominations will be open until September 1 followed by the release of the Melbourne Cup weights from Racing Victoria’s chief handicapper Greg Carpenter a fortnight later on September 13, 2011.
The other major change to the Melbourne Cup race and balloting conditions is that a horse reported to be unfit after a veterinary check by a Racing Victoria steward for an event on Victoria Derby Day, the Saturday before the Melbourne Cup, will not be permitted to be a final acceptor for the 2011 Melbourne Cup field.
Last year Luca Cumani’s European stayer Bauer was a late scratching from the Melbourne Cup field on the morning of the race.
The withdrawal of the veteran saw an under capacity field of 23 horses contest the 2010 Melbourne Cup, won by Americain, as there were no emergencies.
Bauer had been allowed as an acceptor for the Melbourne Cup despite ongoing injury concerns four days out from the Spring Carnival showpiece.
The Victorian Racing Club’s chief executive Dale Monteith stated that these recent alterations to the Melbourne Cup conditions will see a possible drop in nominations from the 252 early entries last year but will in turn ensure a higher quality list of final Melbourne Cup acceptors.
Also coming into affect will be tougher conditions for horses to pass the first ballot clause for the Cup.
Previously a horse was apt to gain a re-handicap for a victory in a race offering a first prize of $60,000.
Now to pass the initial ballot for the Melbourne Cup, a horse must win a Listed race over 1600m or further or be placed in a Group race over at least 2300m.
A handful of European staying races are the sole exceptions to the new balloting clause.
Now horses that finish fourth or fifth in any of the below races since August 1, 2009 will automatically pass the first balloting clause:
- Melbourne Cup
- Caulfield Cup
- The BMW
- Sydney Cup
- The Metropolitan
The Melbourne Cup owner’s trophy has also increased in value to $200,000 from $150,000 to reflect the rising price of gold.
“The changes to weight penalty and balloting clause criteria in the race conditions take the Melbourne Cup to a higher level as the race continues its evolution as the staying championship of the world,” Monteith said.