Crowds set to miss spring’s major horse races
The spring carnivals in Sydney and Melbourne will have a different feel to them this year.
There is a very real likelihood feature races like The Everest at Royal Randwick and the Melbourne Cup at Flemington will be run before empty grandstands.
The global coronavirus pandemic has changed our way of life for the immediate future with social distancing measures preventing fans from attending any sporting events.
With these protocols likely to be in place for some months, the spring carnivals will be watched by television audiences.
If this is the scenario, do prizemoney levels for the nation's two richest races, the $15 million The TAB Everest and $8 million Melbourne Cup stay the same this spring carnival?
In this age of uncertainty, no one can predict what next week looks like so it is impossible to consider what will happen in six months.
But what we do know is the make-up of The Everest field will change dramatically. Five sprinters who contested the race last spring have already been retired.
The defending champion Yes Yes Yes has gone to stud. Redzel, the 2017 and 2018 winner, has retired. So, has Pierata, Alizee and Ten Sovereigns. Others may follow.
Nearly half of the 24-horse Melbourne Cup field last year was made up of northern hemisphere-trained stayers.
With the current international travel restrictions, it will be extremely difficult for any overseas stayers to contest the Melbourne Cup this spring.
This could be an old-fashioned spring carnival between Australasia's best racehorses.
AT the start of the Sydney autumn, who would have selected the training partnership of Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott, and New Zealand jockey Opie Bosson to be the dominant Group 1 performers?
Waterhouse and Bott had a stellar carnival, finishing with four major races wins from Farnan (Golden Slipper), Con Te Partiro (Coolmore Classic, Coolmore Legacy Stakes) and Shout The Bar (Vinery Stud Stakes).
Chris Waller, Jamie Richards, Peter and Paul Snowden, and England's William Haggas each prepared two Group 1 winners.
Bosson claimed riding honours with four Group 1 wins including Tofane in the All Aged Stakes last Saturday. He also won big races on Quick Thinker (Australian Derby), Te Akau Shark (Chipping Norton Stakes) and Probabeel (Surround Stakes).
Tim Clark had his best-ever autumn carnival with three majors on I Am Excited (The Galaxy) and two wins on the Waterhouse and Bott-trained Con Te Partiro.
Hugh Bowman also rode three Group 1 winners, sweeping the coveted juvenile triple crown with his Golden Slipper win on Farnan then the two Randwick Group 1 wins on King's
Legacy (ATC Sires Produce Stakes, Champagne Stakes).
King's Legacy became only the third horse to win twice at Group 1 level during the Sydney carnival, joining Con Te Partiro and English raider Addeybb (Ranvet Stakes, Queen Elizabeth Stakes).
Meanwhile, Bosson is due to return to New Zealand on Tuesday after spending more than a month away from his young family while riding in Sydney.
Bosson, who needs to spend 14 days in self-isolation when he returns home, hasn't ruled out another Sydney riding stint later this year.
Originally published as Crowds set to miss spring's major races