The Victoria Racing Club has announced that the winner of the 2015 The Bart Cummings will receive ballot exempt entry into the Melbourne Cup.
The Group 3 The Bart Cummings will still be held over 2600 metres at Flemington on Turnbull Stakes Day, but will now be worth $300,000 in prizemoney and give stayers outside the top 24 of the Melbourne Cup order of entry the opportunity to secure a place in ‘the race that stops a nation’.
VRC Chief Executive Simon Love said the ballot exemption offers stayers a new path to the Melbourne Cup and gives connections the chance to confirm a position for their horses before the first acceptances are released.
“Ballot exemption for The Bart Cummings will introduce another dimension of intrigue in the lead-up to the race that stops a nation and further enhances the quality of the Turnbull Stakes Day card,” Love said.
“This demonstrates our commitment to staying races, which the VRC is backing up with a $150,000 increase in prize money for The Bart Cummings.
“It now becomes a compelling pathway into the Emirates Melbourne Cup, adding certainty before the first acceptances are taken, just as the Lexus Stakes on AAMI Victoria Derby Day offers the opportunity before the final acceptances.”
Racing Victoria Chief Handicapper Greg Carpenter was quick to throw his support behind the decision and he believes that the change will see The Bart Cummings continue to grow in quality as it joins the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m), Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m), Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) and Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) as the only races that offer Melbourne Cup ballot exemption.
“This is a significant enhancement to the conditions for the Emirates Melbourne Cup and provides another unique and coveted opportunity for a horse, particularly one lower in the handicap, to win its way into the world’s premier staying race,” Carpenter said.
“The Bart Cummings is an emerging feature race that will only grow in stature.
“It carried Group 3 status for the first time in 2014 and the winner Who Shot Thebarman went on to finish third to Protectionist in the Emirates Melbourne Cup with the Lexus Stakes winner Signoff in fourth.”
Notable recent winners of The Bart Cummings include Mourayan, Araldo and Who Shot Thebarman, while the likes of Niwot, Maluckyday and Sea Moon finished in the placings.