A massive makeover to the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival for 2012 was announced by the Melbourne Racing Club (MRC) this week, one of the major changes being that the previous juvenile race – The Blue Sapphire – will from then belong to the three-year-olds.
Previously held mid-year, The Blue Sapphire was run as a two-year-olds feature but from next year will run as a lucrative and revamped showdown for the three-year-olds on Caulfield Guineas Day.
Already one of Racing Victoria’s premier race meetings of the spring season, Caulfield Guineas Day is home to three elite level features including the marquee event of the day, the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m), and is the opening race day of the prestigious Caulfield Cup Carnival.
The Blue Sapphire will give three-year-olds another top-class racing opportunity on the day now, with the MRC injecting a significant boost to the stakes on offer with the prize money to be set at $250,000.
“The Club believes this race will add an exciting element to both the Patinack Farm Blue Diamond Series and the BMW Caulfield Cup Carnival,” MRC Chief Executive Alasdair Robertson said.
“We believe it will grow in stature over time and the Club is confident it will receive black-type status over the course of the next few years.
“It also serves as another lead-in race to some of the feature three-year-old sprint races later in the Spring Racing Carnival.”
While the juveniles won’t have The Blue Sapphire from 2012, good news for the connections of the season’s two-year-olds is the return of the lucrative $1 million Patinack Farm Blue Diamond series bonus.
The rich bonus will be rewarded to any two-year-old that scores victory in all three legs of the 2012 Patinack Farm Blue Diamond Series – the Listed Blue Diamond Preview (1000m), the Group 3 Blue Diamond Prelude (1100m) and of course the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m).
The $1 million bonus is on the condition that each leg of the series has at minimum of 10 starters.
Peter Snowden’s star colt Sepoy missed out on the bonus in 2010 due to this condition.
The son of Elusive Quality was the emphatic winner of both the colts and geldings Blue Diamond Preview and Prelude in the summer and was never threatened in his stunning all-the-way Blue Diamond Stakes success.
He was not awarded the bonus, however, as the opening leg of the series only had nine starters.
It was still a mighty achievement by the Darley-owned Sepoy, who joined Rancher, Midnight Fever and Bel Esprit – sire of star Melbourne mare Black Caviar – as the only horses in the 41-year Blue Diamond history to win the triple.
“Patinack Farm is delighted to be involved in the Blue Diamond Series again and we look forward to working together with the Melbourne Racing Club to ensure our second year of sponsorship in 2012 is as successful as our first was in 2011,” Patinack Farm Chief Executive Peter Beer said.
Opening entries for the 2012 Patinack Farm Blue Diamond Series and The Blue Sapphire will be taken in early July this year.
Any horse nominated for the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes will receive an automatic entry into the 2012 The Blue Sapphire as an added incentive.