Chris Waller mulling change of spring plans for Kermadec after prizemoney boost   Leave a comment

Chris Waller mulling change of spring plans for Kermadec after prizemoney boost

July 15, 2015 – 7:16PM
Spring in his step: Doncaster winner Kermadec may chase the $1 million prize money in the Epsom Handicap.Spring in his step: Doncaster winner Kermadec may chase the $1 million prize money in the Epsom Handicap. Photo: Getty Images

Chris Waller has hinted he will have a change of heart with Kermadec and use the Epsom Handicap as a Cox Plate springboard after the Australian Turf Club beefed up prize money to $1 million for the feature race of the Sydney spring carnival.

Among a raft of prize money increases announced by the ATC on Wednesday, the Epsom Handicap will double in stakes from $500,000 while The Metropolitan will feature a $750,000 purse – up from $400,000 last year.

The inflated stakes levels were part of a $2 million injection in prize money for some of Sydney’s biggest spring events, funded by the ATC’s improved financial outlook.

And Waller, Sydney’s premier trainer who won both the Epsom (He’s Your Man) and The Metropolitan (Opinion) last year, said programming of his team could now be tailored to the two signature races of the Sydney spring rather than consigning certain horses to Melbourne.

At the top of the list will be Doncaster hero Kermadec, set to be aimed at the Cox Plate after the heroics of his three-year-old season.

“We can’t be seen to be second tier to Melbourne in the spring,” Waller said. “A million dollar Epsom is going to keep your horses here and I might think about running Kermadec in an Epsom now.

“I wouldn’t think twice about running Kermadec in the Epsom for $400,000 or $500,000, but if it’s a million dollars it’s going to get some serious thought. Sydney deserves to see those types of horses here two or three times – not just once in the spring.

“Automatically you’re going to get five or six serious horses in the race that Sydney doesn’t get a chance to see. They’re all going to have a lead-up run and you might have 10 horses you wouldn’t normally see in Sydney up here [throughout their preparations].”

And it’s understood the ATC is also mulling whether to trigger other prize money increases for the autumn carnival when it meets in summer to review the stakes structure for the back end of the season.

The All Aged Stakes is one of many high-rating races set to go under the microscope. The $400,000 carnival-ending group 1 has a recent honour roll including All Too Hard, Atlantic Jewel and Hay List and has long been touted as the first autumn race in line for a significant prize money boost.

The Sky High Stakes is another race understood to be in line to have its $150,000 purse lifted.

Other spring group 1 races to carry inflated purses later this year include the Spring Champion Stakes, George Main Stakes and Flight Stakes.

ATC chief executive officer Darren Pearce said the club’s improving bottom line – which has been aided since the closure of broadcaster TVN – had helped fund the prize money increase and a 10 per cent reduction in training fees across all its metropolitan tracks.

“Prize money is just one area where we have been able to return more of our surplus to the industry, and we are delighted to further bolster our spring program,” Pearce said.

“The reduction in track fees represents the beginning of a commitment to use surpluses to reduce costs for owners and we are committed to doing more in the future as we focus on continual improvement.”

Winners of The Metropolitan and the Epsom Handicap will also automatically gain a start in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes during The Championships, while autumn ballot exemption will also apply for the victors of the Flight Stakes (Doncaster Mile) as well as the Premiere Stakes and Roman Consul Stakes (TJ Smith Stakes).

The ATC will also splash an extra $175,000 on races throughout its summer program.

Meanwhile, James McDonald flirted with a careless riding charge on his return to Australian racing at Warwick Farm on Wednesday as his premiership lead evaporated less than 24 hours after arriving back in the country.

McDonald fronted stewards over an incident stemming from race four where he shifted in on Cabalistic hampering Ashkannd, ironically ridden by Blake Shinn, who joined McDonald at the top of the premiership standings after winning on Rockolicious earlier in the day.

Chairman of stewards Greg Rudolph told McDonald he avoided a charge “by a narrow margin”.

Hugh Bowman moved to within 1½ wins of the leading pair after saluting aboard Shadow Lord in the last.

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Posted July 16, 2015 by belesprit09 in Uncategorized

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