The conditions of the Stella Artois Caulfield Cup will be subject to amendments this year, following an annual review by the Melbourne Racing Club (MRC).
The updates to race conditions address deadlocks in the order of entry, penalties, and preliminary races granting exemption from ballot from the $5 million Group 1 on October 19.
Order of entry deadlocks
The second elimination clause of the Caulfield Cup currently eliminates entrants in order of their allocated weight below the benchmark for their age and sex, then by peak international rating of the preceding 12 months.
To avert a deadlock of horses in the order of elimination following the application of these clauses, a further condition has been added, pertaining to aggregate prize money received in historical performances in certain categories of races.
A historic clause of the Caulfield Cup demands that winners of any handicap flat race run over a distance of 1600m or further of the advertised value of $60,000 or over to the winner, after the release of weights, can be re-handicapped.
This clause is now considered redundant and has been deleted from the conditions.
Guaranteed entry races
In line with the MRC’s quest to generate increased participation in the club’s flagship event from abroad in recent years, an expansive list of races run internationally that would grant winners guaranteed entry into the Caulfield Cup was devised.
While the practical impact of these guarantees is/was negligible as opposed to their impact in publicity and international relations, the club has recognised that the balance of these ballot-exempting races had erred too heavily in favour of the international market: 18 were run internationally, against eight domestically.
Accordingly, the list of international guaranteed-entry races has halved, from 18 to nine, with those considered most relevant to the Caulfield Cup, as follows, retained:
1. Nikkei Shin Hun Hai (Japan)
2. Kyoto Kinen (Japan)
3. Sheema Classic (UAE)
4. Jockey Club Stakes (UK)
5. Champions and Chater Cup (Hong Kong)
6. Meguro Kinen (Japan)
7. Grand Prix de Chantilly (France)
8. Hardwicke Stakes (UK)
9. Princess of Wales’s Stakes (UK)
Meanwhile, the club added a home-based race to the domestic suite, to equalise the number run at home and abroad.
In 2019, it is the intention of the MRC to run the 2000-metre Group 3 Coongy Handicap on Catanach’s Jewellers Blue Sapphire Stakes day, the Wednesday prior to the Caulfield Cup, and offer the last opportunity for aspirants to gain a berth in the 2400-metre feature.
The change revisits yesteryear: until 1996, the Coongy was run on the Wednesday of Caulfield Cup, last won in that format by Circles of Gold – dam of future Caulfield Cup winner Elvstroem and his brother Haradasun, and granddam of champion globetrotter Highland Reel and his sister, another one-time Cup participant, Valdemoro.
The Coongy completes a schedule of nine local guaranteed-entry races:
1. Mornington Cup
2. VRC Makybe Diva Stakes
3. MVRC Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes
4. MRC Foundation Cup (Naturalism Stakes)
5. Underwood Stakes
6. VRC Turnbull Stakes
7. Caulfield Stakes
8. Herbert Power Stakes
9. Coongy Handicap
MRC Chief Executive, Josh Blanksby, heralded the changes as exciting improvements to the club’s most famous race.
“As we periodically do with all of our races as a matter of course, we examined the incumbent conditions of Stella Artois Caulfield Cup with a view to improving and modernising the race, which we strongly believe we have achieved through these changes,” Blanksby said.
“We believe we have struck the right balance of win-and-in races from the domestic and international markets, and we’re particularly excited about returning the Coongy to its historic position on what is now Catanach’s Jewellers Blue Sapphire day. This will not only add extra spice to that particular meeting, but importantly, provide local connections with another opportunity to gain a start in our great, prestigious race.”