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Sydney Carnival needs a knockout blow – imagine a world class sprint?

November 30, 2010

News came through yesterday that Racing NSW, the NSW Government (don’t get me started on them), Inglis, Tabcorp and Events NSW had teamed up to rebrand the Sydney autumn racing carnival.

From 2011, it will be known as “Sydney Carnival – The Thoroughbred Experience” and will feature two major days of racing, each with nine Group races.

Notably, the Kindergarten Stakes, formerly run on Chipping Norton Stakes day as a Golden Slipper lead up, will now be run as a “Golden Slipper consolation” on Derby Day.

The new program is as follows:

Saturday 2 April 2011, Rosehill Gardens Racecourse

Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m) (GROUP 1) (2yos) Set Weights
The BMW (2400m) (GROUP 1) (3yo&up) Weight-For-Age
George Ryder Stakes (1500m) (GROUP 1) (3yo&up) Weight-For-Age
Storm Queen Stakes (2000m) (GROUP 1) (3yo Fillies) Set Weights
Queen of the Turf Stakes (1500m) (GROUP 1) (3yo&up Fillies/Mares) Weight-For-Age
Tulloch Stakes (2000m) (GROUP 2) (3yo Colts & Geldings) Set Weights
Star Kingdom Stakes (1100m) (GROUP 3) (3yo&up) Quality Handicap
T L Baillieu Handicap (1400m) (GROUP 3) (2yos) Handicap
Queens Cup (2000m) (GROUP 3) (3yo&up) Handicap

Saturday 9 April 2011, Royal Randwick Racecourse

Australian Derby (2400m) (GROUP 1) (3yos) Set Weights
T J Smith Stakes (1200m) (GROUP 1) (Open Age) Weight-For-Age
Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) (GROUP 1) (2yos) Set Weights
Chairman’s Hcp (2600m) (GROUP 2) (3yo&up) Handicap
Sapphire Stakes (1200m) (GROUP 2) (3yo&up Fillies/Mares) Set Weights/Penalties
Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m) (GROUP 3) (3yo Fillies) Handicap
Doncaster Prelude (1600m) (GROUP 3) (3yo&up) Handicap
Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) (GROUP 3) (3yos) Set Weights/Penalties
Kindergarten Stakes (1100m) (GROUP 3) (2yos) Set Weights
While I think that the above race programs are going to be a great advertisement for Sydney racing, what is needed is a knockout blow, something that will establish the Sydney Carnival as one of the world’s great race festivals.

In order to do this, it needs to play to its strengths. While there are sprint races in the spring (in particular, the Patinack Farm Classic is beginning to shape up as a race of importance), the spring is about the stayers.

However, the autumn, while featuring staying races, is undoubtedly all about the sprinter-milers.

I believe the sleeping dragon of the autumn is the Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes over 1200m at weight for age.

This has been a good race since its upgrade to a Group 1, no more so than when Takeover Target defied his age to win memorably.

Relive his win below:

But while it has been a good race, I believe that with the right management, it could emerge as one of the best races on the Australian racing calendar.

And not only that, but it could take the Sydney Carnival to the world.

AND this could all happen as soon as April 2011.

So what is the plan?

One of the most eagerly awaited races of the Spring Carnival was the Black Caviar-Hay List clash on the final day of the Melbourne Cup carnival.

In the end, it was a little bit of a fizzer, with Black Caviar smashing them.

But it was still an amazing sales ptch to the crowd.

Imagine taking it to the next level though…

Not only the best from Australia – Black Caviar, Hay List, Star Witness, Ortensia, True Persuasion, Love Conquers All, Hot Danish, Melito, Decision Time, Eagle Falls, etc.

But imagine the best from Asia – namely Sacred Kingdom and Rocket Man.

What a mouthwatering clash – Black Caviar vs Sacred Kingdom vs Rocket Man.

In the last release of the World Thoroughbred Rankings on November 7, the equal top rated sprinters in the world were Sacred Kingdom and Black Caviar.

Rocket Man was not in the ratings, as he had only been raced sparingly since May 1st.

However, a week and a half ago, Rocket Man recorded a dead heat victory with Hong Kong’s second best sprinter, One World.

Sacred Kingdom was 4th.

If Rocket Man wins the HK International Sprint, for which he is likely to start the popular elect, he may be considered the world’s best sprinter, or at least equal with Sacred Kingdom and Black Caviar.

Black Caviar’s trainer Peter Moody has said she is unlikely to travel overseas until the end of next year, which means that the best option for a world class clash is in the T.J. Smith Stakes.

It is perfectly placed, four weeks after the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) and six weeks before the G1 Krisflyer International Sprint at Kranji in Singapore.

The Krisflyer is seen by Australian trainers as a good lead up to the Royal Ascot carnival in England.

So unless someone tells me it is impossible to get Black Caviar, Rocket Man and Sacred Kingdom to Sydney, I believe that it should be a priority of those co-ordinating the new Sydney Carnival.

Because honestly, would any Australian racing fan give up the opportunity to see such a world class sprint?

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