From this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival on the weight-for-age Moir Stakes will be run over an amended distance of 1000m making it only the country’s second Group 1 over shorter than 1100m.
Before 2015 the sole elite level on the annual Australian Racing Calendar run over 1000m has been the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes held at Flemington Racecourse in February each year.
Now joining it in the spring is Moonee Valley’s Moir Stakes worth $450,000 in prize money and previously run over 1200m.
AJ Moir Stakes Night takes place under the lights at Moonee Valley Racecourse this season on Friday October 2, with that weekend’s other Melbourne action running on the Sunday at Flemington with Turnbull Stakes Day.
Racing takes place across the three days of the AFL Grand Final weekend including in Sydney on the Saturday at Royal Randwick for Epsom Handicap Day featuring a triple shot of elite level classics.
Robert Heathcote’s veteran Queensland sprint star Buffering (2014) goes down as the final Moir Stakes winner in history to do it over the former distance, the champ beating home Lankan Rupee in a thrilling edition last spring.
There were a couple of Spring Carnival feature race changes announced by Racing Victoria this week along with the Moir Stakes.
The other change of distance is to the Group 2 Schillaci Stakes at Caulfield Racecourse on Caulfield Guineas Day, October 10, the $200,000 weight-for-age clash increased from 1000m up to 1100m.
Last year’s Schillaci Stakes was won by Rubick, the now retired colt taking it out first-up in a one length victory over Platelet.
The major program change this spring meanwhile is moving the $400,000 Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m), won in 2014 by the Chris Waller-trained eight-year-old Foreteller, from the third Saturday in September to the 26th of that month.
The opening Group 1 race of the season this spring is scheduled for August 29 at Caulfield with the $400,000 Memsie Stakes (1400m) to get things under way.
Already a classy line-up of gallopers is targeting the feature including Suavito, the Nigel Blackiston-trained mare who won the Group 1 Futurity Stakes over the same track and distance during the autumn.
After the Memsie the elite level racing action in Melbourne continues in September on the 12th with the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) over the Flemington mile before the Underwood that now runs at the same meeting as the $400,000 Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1800m).
This year’s Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes was announced this week as on a target for the Ken Keys-trained Rich Enuff, the smart Group 2 winning colt set to make his return from injury in the spring after missing the autumn.
A rising four-year-old son of Written Tycoon, Rich Enuff hasn’t raced since his seventh behind Waller’s now internationally performed colt Brazen Beau in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington last November.