Messara Foretells Autumn Carnival Woes

By: Sarah Fortnum
July 15th, 2011

John Messara has expressed his displeasure with the fixed dates concept employed for next year’s autumn racing carnival, asking Racing NSW and the Australian Turf Club (ATC) to make a change.

The traditional order of race meets during the Sydney autumn carnival has been altered in favour of a system which will see the Golden Slipper run at Rosehill Gardens on the first weekend in April and the AJC Derby run a week later at Randwick.

Messara is calling for the traditional Easter week of Group 1 racing to be returned.

“It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I am putting my hand up now – I do not think it is working,” Messara said.

“It is time to go back to the future, reclaim the Easter dates and restore the historical sequence of race-meetings on Easter Saturday, Easter Monday, Wednesday and the closing Saturday.

“It is time now to cut our losses and admit that we made a mistake.”

The dates will remain in place for at least the coming autumn.

“There is still one year to go on that contract and then it will be reviewed,” Messara said.

ATC chief executive Darren Pearce conceded that the system could be changed in 2013.

“This coming autumn is the final year for the fixed dates contract with Events NSW,” Mr Pearce said.

“It is on our agenda to evaluate the best way forward after autumn 2012.”

Messara believes we should draw experience from Royal Ascot, the Melbourne Cup Carnival and the Dubai World Cup.

“The common theme here is that the signature meetings in those three countries concentrate prestigious racing and supporting events into a brief span of time,” Messara said.

“This helps to make a racing carnival a destination for local and international spectators.

“I believe that the current Sydney autumn carnival has forfeited its status as a destination meeting.”

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