The much awaited return from injury of Mark Kavanagh’s dual Group 1 winner Atlantic Jewel is far from confirmed this weekend after the Melbourne Racing Club (MRC) announced the season’s opening elite level, the 2013 Memsie Stakes, would run as the last at Caulfield on Saturday.
In an attempt to build anticipation and keep the crowds trackside at the big Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival meetings, a number of the big Group 1 races have been scheduled to bring their respective meetings to a close.
The first of those will be this weekend’s $350,000 Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) which is set to run as Race 8 at 4:50pm (AEST).
“We believe that the race day experience, as a sporting and entertainment event, is heightened when it culminates with its feature aspect – in this instance, group one racing,” the MRC chief executive Brodie Arnhold said on Racing Victoria.
“The club has a duty to our sponsors and our own racing product to provide maximum exposure. Running our features last enables us to capitalise on the increased free-to-air television audience courtesy of Channel Seven’s commitment to racing, the closer coincidence to Asian racing markets that it brings, and the decreased likelihood of clashes with other sporting events.
“It also looms as a positive move for punters. Despite a lack of definitive wagering data focusing on running the feature race last given its unique nature, patterns suggest a thirst for better racing later in the day.”
While all that may be true, the move to the last on the program for the 2013 Memsie Stakes could see the race lose one of its drawcard contenders.
One of the 11 individual Group 1 winners nominated for the weight-for-age feature, Fastnet Rock mare Atlantic Jewel could have her first run since a 2012 All Aged Stakes victory in April last year delayed.
Kavanagh and her Coolmore Stud owners are concerned that with the race run so late the track conditions could be very choppy, certainly not ideal for a horse coming back off such an extended break.
“Not running her is under consideration,” Kavanagh told the Herald Sun on Tuesday.
“It has been discussed and at this stage I’m not that keen on the situation which has been presented as it will mean 50 extra horses will have run on the track.
“We’ve got to discuss the track conditions and whether it will chop up.”
Kavanagh could still be represented in the Memsie Stakes field however by his exciting Australian Cup winner Super Cool who is set to make their four-year-old debut.
Meanwhile another of the nominated Group 1 champs Sincero has already been officially withdrawn with their Wyong-based trainer Stephen Farley confirming they would not be accepting into the field on Wednesday.
Winner of the 2011 George Main Stakes in their most notable career performance, Umatilla gelding Sincero won the Memsie 12 months ago when it still held only Group 2 status.
It was a killer first-up run from the fairytale galloper, an $8,000 bargain buy as a yearling back in 2009, who put two lengths on Happy Trails to win.
While the Paul Beshara-trained Happy Trails, subsequent winner of the Emirates Stakes last spring, is back for another shot, Sincero won’t be defending their title due to a foot abscess.
Instead he will be given an extra week on the sidelines to recover, resuming instead in the $125,000 Group 3 Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Randwick Saturday week.
There’s still a plethora of spring stars in the Memsie mix this weekend including last year’s Melbourne Cup quinella of Green Moon and Fiorente and Cox Plate-bound It’s A Dundeel.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au to view the Memsie Stakes 2013 field and barriers on Wednesday morning.