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Many of Sydney’s leading horse trainers have been left fuming after the news that the 2011 Randwick Guineas, one of the season’s premier thoroughbred showdowns, will be moved to Warwick Farm Racecourse in favour of a music festival to be held at the Royal Randwick.
The decision by the Australian Jockey Club (AJC) to host the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) at Warwick Farm was primarily a financial one and is set to have major implications including a smaller field of three-year-old horses able to contest the race.
Originally scheduled to take place at New South Wales’ iconic Royal Randwick on Saturday March 12, organisers decided to keep the same race date for the Guineas but move the meeting to Sydney’s smaller and less equipped racecourse at Warwick Farm so the Future Music Festival could be held at Randwick.
Randwick Guineas Day is the official opening meeting of the esteemed Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival and as well as the Randwick Guineas features other quality events including the Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) and three Group 3 races.
Trainers including Grahame Begg and David Payne have expressed their anger over the move and the seemingly unsuitable preference entertainment events hold over racing with the AJC.
Begg prepares improving three-year-old Ilovethiscity while Payne is the trainer of Masquerader, both horses originally heading towards the Randwick Guineas next year.
Safety limits at Warwick Farm mean that field sizes are likely to smaller for Guineas Day, further infuriating the connections of runners targeting events on the day.
There is also the notable difference in the tracks that is causing issues as Payne stated, “I really don’t think they should be running group 1 races at Warwick Farm.”
Randwick is known for its elite 1600m track whereas at Warwick Farm a constant number of turns before the home straight presents issues.
With the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) running at Flemington a week earlier on March 5, Sydney racing may suffer a major blow as connections opt to run their three-year-olds in the Melbourne event instead.
“The Australian Guineas is maybe a more viable option for a horse like Ilovethiscity,” Begg said, confirming the issues Sydney racing now faces in attracting the same number and calibre of Randwick Guineas contenders.
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