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The Australian Racing Calendar has a new Group 1 race on the horizon with the Makybe Diva Stakes 2013 officially upgraded to elite level ahead of this year’s Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
Held at Victoria’s famous Flemington Racecourse on Saturday September 7, 2013, the Makybe Diava Stakes is now the second Group 1 race of the season following the $350,000 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 31 which was upgraded to Group 1 status late last year.
However its recent upgrade means there are now a record 72 Group 1 races to run down under in the 2013-14 season which has come under criticism by those believing that’s too many.
The Australian Pattern Committee (APC), responsible for the upgrade, argues against the critics siting the higher percentage of Group 1 flat races held in Europe compared to Australia each season.
“In Australia, we have 19,000 races run on the flat each year, while in all of Europe there are 17,000 races,” the APC’s chairman Alan Brown said.
“Yet Europe has a total of 86 Group 1 races and 821 stakes races compared to Australia’s 72 and 589 stakes races.
“Of all flat races in Europe, 4.7 per cent have black type but in Australia that figure is 3.15.”Brown said that in Ireland and the United Arab Emirates, this ratio soars to more than 10 per cent.”
Run over a mile under weight-for-age conditions the Makybe Diva Stakes, formerly the Craiglee Stakes, is worth $350,000 in prize money, up from $300,000, and makes a nice lead-up race for gallopers heading towards some of the spring’s major staying races including the $2.5 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) in October.
Horses that run in the Makybe Diva often back up in other Group 1’s including the Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield in September and Turnbull Stakes back at Flemington over the 1600m in early October making it a key feature on the spring calendar.
“The Makybe Diva Stakes has been an integral part of the Melbourne spring carnival for many years and an excellent guide to major races like the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups and the Cox Plate,” Brown said.
A number of top-line stayers have won the race over the years including recent winners Shocking (2010) who won the previous year’s $6.2 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) and 2011 Caulfield Cup winner Southern Speed (2012).
The Victorian Racing Club (VRC) has welcomed the upgrade and believes it will help ensure the Makybe Diva Stakes winners list continues to feature headline racehorses.
“The Makybe Diva Stakes each year signals the return of quality middle distance racing and has been won by proven Group 1 horses such as Southern Speed, Shocking and Northerly in recent years,” VRC chief executive David Courtney said.
“The calibre of the race’s winners and its role as the launching pad towards the spring’s biggest races, including the Emirates Melbourne Cup, ensure it is worthy of racing’s elite status.”
Along with the Memsie and the Makybe another Melbourne WFA feature upgraded to the Group 1 club of late was the $450,000 Moir Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley in late September.
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