Spring racing facing major shake-up to avoid AFL finals clash
Racing is set to break with 140 years of tradition by moving the Caulfield Cup to late November.
The 2400m Group 1 handicap, first held in 1879, is a key lead-up race to the Melbourne Cup.
But Racing Victoria is expected to announce an overhaul of its spring dates next week, pushing the Caulfield Cup back to November 28 and staging the Caulfield Guineas on November 21.
The Melbourne Cup would still be run on the first Tuesday in November, while the Cox Plate and Derby Day retain their usual places on the calendar under the proposed changes.
A draft schedule has been presented to Victoria's key racing clubs.
The Caulfield Cup would become the last major race of the carnival.
One big plus of a later running of the Caulfield Cup could be bigger crowds being permitted to attend due to the expected easing of pandemic restrictions.
Melbourne Racing Club, which governs Caulfield racecourse, has been keen to explore moving the entire carnival back four weeks, but changing the running order of the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cups seemed unlikely until now.
Hall of Fame trainer David Hayes told the Herald Sun last week he thought the spring carnival should be pushed back three weeks.
"In normal circumstances we are competing with the AFL in September and it completely overshadows racing," Mr Hayes said.
"This year we will be going head to head with the finals series in October where we've got feature races.
"There are so many reasons (for moving the carnival). The weather's better and it would also give us an extra three weeks for the crowds to come and enjoy racing."
International trainers have routinely used a Caulfield Cup run to springboard into the Melbourne Cup.
Eleven greats of the turf, including champion Might and Power, have won both races in the same year.
Last year Vow And Declare ran second in the Caulfield Cup before winning the Melbourne Cup 17 days later.
The revised spring carnival calendar would put the AFL Grand Final and the 100th running of the Cox Plate on an October 24 collision course. Under that scenario, it is believed one of the events - both part of Channel 7's sporting coverage - would be held at night this year for the first time.
Moonee Valley chief executive Michael Browell met Channel 7 boss Lewis Martin last week and discussed the possibility of the Cox Plate being run on Grand Final day.
"I told Lewis of my personal preference that if the AFL Grand Final was held at night we would run the meeting from midday to 6pm with the Cox Plate at 5pm," Mr Browell said.
The revised racing dates are expected to be confirmed by June 1.
Legendary trainer Bart Cummings holds the record for the most Caulfield Cups, winning seven.
Originally published as Spring racing facing major shake-up to avoid AFL finals clash