Caulfield Cup Day (Image: Racing Photos)

(Image: Racing Photos)

Spring schedule still under review

While mindful of not upsetting spring racing's golden goose, racing clubs at Caulfield and The Valley are pressing on with discussions that could see a major revamp of this year's Carnival.

Pressure to push back the Spring Carnival in Melbourne was released over the weekend when the Victoria Racing Club announced it would not be shifting its four-day carnival from its current date, but fellow Melbourne clubs remain in discussions about shifting their features to after the Melbourne Cup on the first Tuesday of November.

Melbourne Racing Club chief executive Josh Blanksby told RSN927 on Wednesday: "It would be remiss of all sporting administrators not to look at every scenario and option.

"At the moment we are in unprecedented times with coronavirus and how it is going to work.

"We're looking at three options.

"There's the status quo and we play on and see how we are with crowds and clashes that would occur with other sports.

"We could move the whole carnival back four weeks but the VRC have ruled that out and we understand that.

"Then there's the third option, which is we flip and we move maybe certain races including the Caulfield Cup Carnival and possibly the Cox Plate Carnival after Flemington."

Blanksby said the MRC is conscious that any change was likely to have an impact on clubs.

"This is a working group that are working together and we very much want to make sure that if any recommendations are put they are put with everybody's support so it's not one club putting up something against tradition," he said.

"We are very much working with (Racing Victoria's) Greg Carpenter and Paul Bloodworth and their teams on what could work best from a wagering, media and pattern perspective."

Moonee Valley Racing Club chief executive Michael Browell said: "The VRC have been very firm and have strong reasons why they don't want to shift the four days of the Flemington Carnival and out here at Moonee Valley, we do respect their position.

"So, we've had conversations with the Melbourne Racing Club and conversations with Racing Victoria as to what an alternate program might look like.

"At the moment everything is on the table but until we made a decision otherwise, the Cox Plate Carnival is scheduled for October 23rd and 24th."

Browell added that the clock is ticking.

"Particularly over the next two-to-four weeks as the trainers start to plan the preparations for their horses for the second half of the calendar year," he said.

"It is critical that the industry be able to pin down what the dates are when the key races will be on and also importantly what the programs might looks like to get these horses through to their grand finals."

The clubs are investigating a potential move in this coronavirus year given the doubt that lingers over if and when the AFL finals will be played.

Browell said the MVRC was prepared to be flexible if there is no change to the Cox Plate date.

"If they (AFL) were locked into a day-time Grand Final we could run the Cox Plate at night," he said.

"But also too, if they were willing to consider a night Grand Final then we would be able to run the Cox Plate in its traditional time slot.

"Our preferred outcome would be if the Grand Final is on the 24th of October we retain the 12pm to 6pm (timeslot) then the Grand Final can be played at night.

"With over $100 million in wagering turnover around the country on the Moonee Valley meeting as well as the interstate meetings that would be conducted, we feel that, to maximise the wagering revenue, it would be best if we held that time slot."

Blanksby said one of his greatest fears would be for the Caulfield Cup Carnival to be run in its traditional time only for crowd restrictions to be lifted a few weeks later.

"The No.1 reason we are open to this and there are certainly no decisions made as we want it to work for everybody as it's not going to be a one-out Melbourne Racing Club decision - is the more time we give for crowds and our members to actually come to the racecourse," he said.

"(We would be) buying ourselves more time to plan and have scenarios where members and owners could actually attend the races.

"I think that's worth investigating."