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Jumps Seek Return To Caulfield, Mornington & Bendigo
The 70-race draft program from the Australian Jumps Racing Association includes "the return of jumps racing to Caulfield, Mornington & Bendigo" reported The Herald-Sun. The draft season starts on April 4 at Warrnambool & ends on September 19 at Pakenham, with jumps racing to be held at Warrnambool, Sandown, Hamilton, Casterton, Coleraine, Bendigo, Caulfield, Moe, Mornington & Pakenham. The program "needs the approval of Racing Victoria, which Australian Jumps Racing Association chairman Rodney Rae hopes to get next week". Three dates for hurdle racing at Caulfield (July 16 & 30, plus the Grand National Hurdle on Liston Stakes day August 13) "remain contentious". The newspaper noted: "Though aware RV chief executive Rob Hines is reluctant to embrace jumps racing at Caulfield, Rae remains committed to the idea" commenting: "I know Rob has poured cold water on it, but it is not up to one person to arbitrarily make the decision." The Melbourne Racing Club committee "is yet to vote on whether to return hurdle racing to Caulfield", but MRC chairman Mike Symons (a leading jumps owner) said the outlook for the sport was positive, emphasising: "This time last year it was dead. As long as it keeps performing, I'm sure it will prove a vital part of our winter racing." The planned 70 races (45 hurdles & 25 steeplechases) is an increase on the 63 programmed last season & the $2.78 million prize-money is an increase of about $650,000.