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Image: Bruno Cannatelli
Do You Reckon was last years winner of the Final

Not happy Jan!

That’s some of the feedback that is being received on the back of the changes to the eligibility criteria for the Melbourne Cup Carnival Country Series … changes which significantly reshape the dynamics and the profile of the series.

From the launch of the series in 2017 until last season, trainers based at Caulfield and Flemington were not eligible to have runners in the country series, for obvious reasons. The motivation behind those conditions being imposed was to provide smaller stables with the opportunity to a race for big prize-money without big stable competition. Horses contest $100,000 heats with $500,000 in overall prize-money on offer in the Series final.

But now, with Caulfield being phased out as a training venue and some of those trainers who previously had their base at Caulfield moving to the likes of Ballarat and Cranbourne, authorities have deemed that to only lock Flemington trainers out of the series would not be fair, so the supposed country series now effectively becomes a free-for-all, with the three notable conditions for entry being that a horse must be trained by a trainer who is based in Victoria and must have been stabled at a Victorian base since the start of the new season … and, lastly, that all Black Type winners are ineligible for the Series.

Julius Sandhu, who won last year’s final with Do You Reckon, arguably summed up the thoughts of many country trainers when he told Racing.com …

“That particular race series, in the way it was constructed, absolutely gave the smaller stables an opportunity to race on the big stage without having to bump into the bigger stables that have the resources and the backing to win Group 1 races and other feature races on a regular basis. I thought that was the point of the series.

“I knew they would make changes, but I thought they would look at the size of the stable and the number of horses you train to determine who was eligible.

“I’m not sure why it’s still being called the Melbourne Cup Carnival Country Series,” said Sandhu.

A point well made!

 
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