WARRNAMBOOL Racing Club hosts the first jumps race in the 2014 season, which offers a refined feature race schedule and enhanced opportunities for novice jumpers among key changes.
The jumps season begins on March 17, a fortnight later than this year owing to the later fall of Easter, and finishes on September 29 at Coleraine.
Prizemoney of $3.04 million will be on offer across 70 races, with the split of 45 hurdle races and 25 steeplechases the same as programmed in the 2013 season.
Australian Jumps Racing Association president Marg Lucas welcomed the release of the 2014 season dates.
“We’ve worked closely with Racing Victoria and Thoroughbred Racing South Australia in putting together the dates for the 2014 season,” Lucas said.
“We’ve found more leading trainers are now encouraging their owners to have jumpers, as there is a lot of confidence in the sport.”
Warrnambool’s Grand Annual Steeplechase and the Grand National Steeplechase at Sandown remain the state’s richest jumps races at $250,000. A restructure of the feature race calendar aims to assist quality jumpers to compete at the May Racing Carnival, then be freshened for later features.
The Great Southern Steeplechase and Jack Dow Memorial Hurdle have been discontinued at Mornington and two new $60,000 features have been introduced at Sandown on Wednesday, April 9, as lead-ups to South Australia’s Oakbank Easter Carnival and the May carnival. The Rookie Jumpers Series Final on Sunday, August 24, has been moved from Sandown to Bendigo with prizemoney increased to $50,000.
Eight tracks will host meetings, with 56 per cent of jumps races run in the south-west district. Warrnambool is again the most active track with 21 races programmed.