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The opening heat of Racing Victoria’s Country Mile Race Series was run and won at Colac today with the first three finishers Jazz Star, Fiorente Lass and Rewarding Ruby all qualifying for the final at Moonee Valley on 13 March.

Racing Victoria have amended the conditions for whip use during the series with a maximum of five strikes allowed for each individual race in the series … for what, in essence, is a reduced whip use trial which Racing Victoria claims will assist it ‘in gathering data and learnings in areas such as racing and wagering outcomes, fan engagement and sentiment, level of participant support, adaptation to the conditions by riders, conduct and safety of the race, and the consistency of form lines.’

Wow, that’s a mouthful!

Arguably hidden in that weight of explanation are two important issues.

Firstly, given their statements and direction in recent times, the introduction of an amended whip rule on a trial basis during the series … particularly at this time … is arguably further evidence of Racing Victoria’s push to get their own way with regard to the whip issue.

Remember, the tabling of a long-awaited whip rule review is due at a Racing Australia Board meeting before the end of the month, so you could well ask … are Racing Victoria throwing down the gauntlet to Racing Australia with their decision?

The second point hidden in Racing Victoria’s espousing of their motives is less political and more of a practical nature.

Choosing a Country Mile Race Challenge … with its limited number of races … to collect data that Racing Victoria suggests will be ‘invaluable’ seems a strange place to go if you want to create a viable database of information which represents the greater racing industry.

So, while it is nice in a way to have their long list of specific data seeking criteria, you, again, have to ask … what can Racing Victoria get out of the trial that would be of any real consequence moving forward.

Dare I suggest that applying this amendment rule to metropolitan racing instead … where arguably a lot more could be learnt … was not an option for Racing Victoria.

I don’t know that, but I would be betting against them getting the leading trainers and jockeys to accept such an arrangement … and, of course, with all due respect to the country-based participants, the metropolitan stakeholders feedback has to be in the working mix for any data to be effective.

Many of them, of course, have already spoken … and not favourably … about the matter.

So, there they were going around at Colac.

It was an important result for the first three runners past the post and their connections in the context of the Country Mile Series, but as a meaningful reduced whip use trial.

I don’t know about that!

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