While Australian horse racing has managed to continue during the outbreak of Covid-19 – unlike many other nations, the rescheduling of the seasons of other sports could impact on the Melbourne Spring Carnival.
The world-famous Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne could be set for a significant revamp for 2020, according to horse racing news coming out of Australia, with the knock-on effect of the coronavirus pandemic set to see the Caulfield Cup moved to the end of November.
With the AFL Australian Rules season delayed, the Grand Final – which would typically take place on the final Saturday in September – will now be held on October 24. That is the same day the Group 1 Cox Plate is to take place.
There are no plans to move the Cox Plate, which would dovetail with a first ever evening kick off for the Grand Final to create one of Melbourne’s biggest sporting days.
Instead it is the Group 1 Caulfield Cup, usually held in mid-to-late October and this year scheduled for October 17, that is set to be delayed six weeks and run on November 28. A week earlier, on November 21, a rescheduled Caulfield Guineas meeting would take place instead of on October 10.
The thought process behind the planned switch of Caulfield’s biggest two days is to avoid a clash with the AFL Finals series as it runs into October for the first time.
The Melbourne Cup, the biggest horse racing event on the Australian calendar, will not move with the Race That Stops A Nation being run on the first Tuesday in November – which this year is November 3.
The reason for moving Caulfield’s big races looks likely to have been decided due to the fact that Melbourne’s three major racecourses stage their own mini carnivals in successive weeks.
The decision to uproot the key Group 1s at Caulfield and move together to the end of November will create the latest ever Caulfield Cup in the 140-year history of the race.
But it is a complex process due to the lead-in programmes for the Melbourne Cup and Caulfield Cup, particularly where international runners are concerned with strict quarantine processes in place in Australia.
It could result in even more races being moved in a complete re-jig of the Spring Carnival calendar with officials in Melbourne bidding to find the perfect solution to a conundrum not of their own making.