The early Sydney Spring Carnival meeting on August 23 featuring the Group 2 WFA $175,000 Warwick Stakes (1400m) has been transferred from Warwick Farm to the recently renovated Randwick racecourse.
The future of Group racing at the western suburbs major track now looks uncertain although the Group 1 $350,000 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) meeting in the Autumn is still scheduled to be run at Warwick Farm.
The Warwick Farm track came under major criticism after the running of the Chipping Norton Stakes during this year’s Sydney Autumn Carnival with prominent Randwick trainer Gai Waterhouse leading the call to have major races directed away from the track.
Waterhouse saddled up two runners in the Chipping Norton Stakes with Order Of The Sun and Glencadam Gold finishing second last and last in the eight horse field.
Tommy Berry, who rode Order Of The Sun that day, reported to Waterhouse that the track was not one of the best racing surfaces in Australia.
“No Group races should be there, and Tommy Berry told me he’s never ridden at a more inconsistent track in Australia. The track isn’t good enough,’’ Waterhouse told The Daily Telegraph after the running of the 1600m weight for age feature.
Waterhouse supports the Australian Jockey Club’s decision to transfer the Warwick Stakes meeting which will now be run at Sydney’s number one showcase racecourse.
“They’ve spent a fortune on Randwick, they have to use it, so this is a good idea. Warwick Farm is a substandard track,’’ Waterhouse said.
The other feature races on Warwick Stakes Day are the Group 2 $175,000 Silver Shadow Stakes (1200m) for the three year old fillies, the Group 3 $125,000 Show County Quality (1200m), the Group 3 $125,000 Toy Show Quality (1300m) for the fillies and mares and the Group 3 $125,000 Up and Coming Stakes (1300m) for the three year olds.
But not all trainers are happy with the decision with locals feeling cheated on missing out on a major Spring Carnival meeting.
“It’s disappointing to lose a feature race day, every trainer at other metropolitan tracks get the advantage of racing at their home track, and now we’re missing out,’’ said Joe Pride who has just doubled his numbers at Warwick Farm after taking over the stables of the late Guy Walter who recently passed away suddenly.
“One of us might not win the Warwick Stakes every year, but there are good races on the program, it’s a big day out, and it’s a good chance to entertain our clients out west.’’
Gary Portelli also prepares his team at Warwick Farm and can see the business sense about the move but will also miss the annual feature meeting.
“I can see both sides of the coin, so I’m not that perturbed by it,’’ Portelli said.
“As far as us local trainers go, it’s a kick in the guts because you do have some advantage at your home track, just like the Randwick trainers get an advantage when they run meetings there.
“But the game has to survive, they (the ATC) have to make business decisions to keep the crowds involved and people going to the races.
“You have a multi-million dollar grandstand sitting there (at Randwick) and they have to use it.’’
The Warwick Stakes was first run in 1923 at Warwick Farm and while the majority of the runnings were held in the west, a handful were decided at other Sydney venues including Canterbury in 2000 and Randwick also hosted the weight for age contest on several other occasions.
The Jason Coyle trained Trusting won the 2009 Warwick Stakes when it was run at Randwick while the New Zealand war horse Veyron took out last year’s version at Warwick Farm for Cambridge trainer Linda Laing.