WITH Easter falling in late March next year, it appears likely that the 2013 Victorian jumps season will start at Warrnambool on March 4. The early start will allow Victorian-trained jumpers to warm up before tackling the rich jumping races at Oakbank over the Easter weekend.
Racing Victoria 's operations and jumps manager Paul Bloodworth said a recommendation for an early start would be tabled for the October meetings of the Racing Victoria board.
"We'll table our end-of-season review of the 2012 jumps season for the board meeting on October 4 before making a recommendation for the October 30 meeting about having the early start to the 2013 season," Bloodworth said.
"The Victoria jumps season started on March 27 this year but we're going to have to change our starting date for next season because Easter is earlier. We've got to give the Victorian jumpers a start or two before Oakbank.
"It's likely that the new jumps season will start at Warrnambool on March 4 with a hurdle and a steeplechase and then we'll follow up with a hurdle and steeplechase at Warrnambool's March 18 meeting," he said.
"We've had discussions with the Australian Jumps Racing Association about the matter and they are comfortable with the early start."
Bloodworth said initial discussions had been held with the Warrnambool Racing Club about hosting the early jumps races.
"I've had a chat with Warrnambool's CEO John Green . We've said the jumping tracks have to be well-watered if we start the season in early March. John has assured us that the club could provide a dead four racing surface for the jumpers."
He said an early start would not mean more jumps races for the 2013 season.
"We'll have 70 jumps races programmed for next season the same as we had this season. We'll just space out some of the jumps meetings."
Jumps racing had a resurgence this season with a 25 per cent increase in the numbers of horses competing compared to last season. Bloodworth believes the numbers will increase more next year.
"There's a lot of interest in owning a jumping horse. The prizemoney is excellent. We're confident that more horses will be running in jumps races next season,' he said.
"Since there has been more stability in the sport the confidence of owners and trainers has increased and we're confident that will continue in the future."
TOP Warrnambool jockey Nikita McLean is heading to Ballarat in the next fortnight to continue her successful career. McLean, 26, will join forces with her former boss Jim Mason who has nearly 30 horses in work.
"Jim was my boss when I did my apprenticeship at Caulfield," she said. "I've been riding a few horses for him lately. I had a bit of success for Jim at Ararat on Friday when I won on Herbie. Jim's got a lot of promising young horses in his stable. The offer to head to Ballarat was too good to knock back."
The group 1-winning jockey said she would not be lost to Western District racing.
"I'll still be riding at meetings down here. I've received a lot of support from owners and trainers in the Western District over the past few years and it will continue," she said.
"There are a lot more opportunities at Ballarat at this stage of my career. Ballarat is so central to so many more race meetings across the state."
MACARTHUR racehorse owner Kingsley Peach believes his mare Exceptionally was unlucky not to have run second instead of third in the $150,000 Naturalism Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday. Peach said the wide barrier ruined Exceptionally's chances of winning the group 3 race.
"It was a slashing run," Peach said. "She was always going to have a tough task to win the race after she drew barrier 16. We had no option but to go back after drawing the wide gate. She's going really well. We never entered her in the Caulfield Cup. The Melbourne Cup has been our main aim all along.
"We've now got to win a good race on the way through to get into the Melbourne Cup field. Her next run will be in the Bart Cummings at Flemington on October 6. We'll then probably look at the Herbert Power or the Geelong Cup or maybe the Moonee Valley or Bendigo Cups."
Exceptionally picked up $13,500 for Peach and his fellow owners. She has now earned more than $376,000 in stakemoney .
WARRNAMBOOL Racing Club will join in the spring carnival festivities with a free barbecue breakfast for the public at the racecourse on Wednesday, October 24. Club chief executive John Green said the public would also have the chance to watch horses being put through their paces .
"We'll be having jump-outs on that Wednesday morning," Green said. "We're inviting everyone to come out to the track for a free breakfast. The spring is a great time of the year for horse racing. We're expecting a big turn-up as the public will have the chance to watch the horses gallop and enjoy brekky."
FORMER top Western District jockey Nigel Seymour has made a successful return to riding after a few years in the wilderness. Seymour booted home two winners at Orange on Friday before following up with a winner at Kembla Grange. The talented horseman rode numerous winners on Western District tracks in the late 1990s when he was based in Hamilton.
PRIOR commitments meant politicians Denis Napthine and Dan Tehan missed being trackside when a horse they part-own broke its maiden status.
The Ciaron Maher-trained Spin The Bottle scored its first victory in a 1300-metre maiden at Ararat on Friday, winning by a convincing five lengths.
Napthine, the member for South West Coast, and Tehan, the member for Wannon, are two of 10 owners of the four-year-old mare.
"Denis had a local government meeting and he was in the meeting for the race," Tehan said. "I spent the afternoon at Dunkeld Primary School and I couldn't listen either.
"We were both broken the news about half an hour after it happened, but obviously we were quite delighted to hear it saluted and saluted in such fashion."
Tehan said Spin The Bottle's win was a triumph over adversity, with the mare struck down with a bruised shinbone early in her career. He said Maher had suggested connections chase a spot in a 1600-metre race for her next start.
"From the sense I get from today's race it could definitely be a mid-week city class horse, if not better."
VETERAN jockey Garry Murphy pleaded guilty to a careless riding charge after his ride on Chestnut Valley at Ballarat on Sunday.
The charge related to an incident in which apprentice jockey Adam McCabe fell. Murphy's suspension started at midnight yesterday and ends on October 17. Stewards took into account Murphy's guilty plea and his riding record before handing down his suspension.
Apprentice jockey Jordan Childs was found guilty of a careless riding charge after his ride on Seripak at Pakenham on Saturday. His suspension started at midnight yesterday and expires at midnight on October 1.