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VRC Announces Spring Feature Race Switch
The Victoria Racing Club, in conjunction with Racing Victoria, yesterday announced significant changes to the Melbourne Cup Carnival racing program, headlined by the decision to swap the scheduling of the Mackinnon Stakes and Emirates Stakes and a million dollar prize money boost. The Gr1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) will be renamed the Emirates Stakes and be run a week later on the Carnival's final day, with prize money to double to $2 million. The final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival will remain known as Emirates Stakes Day. Meanwhile, the original Gr1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) will become the Longines Mile and is moved forward a week to the opening day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, Victoria Derby Day. Prize money for the race will remain at $1 million. VRC Chief Executive Simon Love said the fact that the Mackinnon Stakes was no longer a key lead-up race to the Melbourne Cup inspired the change. "To be known as the Emirates Stakes, the race will be more attractive for top tier local and international weight-for-age horses. Now spaced an ideal two weeks apart, the Cox Plate and new Emirates Stakes offer a lucrative combined $5 million in prize money that will no doubt promote increased overseas participation across the spring," Mr Love said. He added:"We don't make changes lightly, with the Melbourne Cup Carnival's traditional four-day format serving it well for over a century, in which time it has established itself as arguably the world's most successful racing event. These changes balance innovation with tradition to improve the Carnival's already outstanding racing product into the future." Racing Victoria Chief Executive Bernard Saundry welcomed the VRC's innovation and said it would further enhance the appeal of the Spring Racing Carnival, both locally and abroad. "We are pleased to be able to support the VRC's ambition to enhance the coveted Melbourne Cup Carnival and deliver what will be a fantastic finale to Australian racing's biggest week," Mr Saundry said. The four days of the Melbourne Cup Carnival are the four most attended race meetings anywhere in Australia, with the event providing an economic benefit to Victoria of almost $400 million each year.