FORMER racing minister Denis Napthine has come out in support of proposed changes to the famous three-day Warrnambool May Racing Carnival's program.
Warrnambool Racing Club is in discussions with Racing Victoria regarding the possibility of moving the Warrnambool Cup from the Thursday to Wednesday and the Galleywood Hurdle from Wednesday to Thursday.
If the idea goes ahead it will break a tradition of more than 100 years of the Warrnambool Cup being staged on the same day as the Grand Annual Steeplechase.
Moving the cup to Wednesday would see it on the same program as the other flat feature, the Wangoom Handicap. The Galleywood and Grand Annual Steeplechase would then be run on the Thursday.
Napthine said there was merit in the proposed changes.
"All parties have to give proper consideration to moving the Warrnambool Cup to the Wednesday," Napthine told The Standard.
"I think it's not a bad idea and should be looked at. The Warrnambool Cup is the feature flat race over the carnival and often gets a bit lost because of the Grand Annual on the Thursday.
"I think if the Warrnambool Cup was run on the Wednesday, it may turn into a better quality race as more trainers may consider running their horses in race 16 over the carnival instead of the 29th race."
Top Warrnambool trainers Symon Wilde and Tom Dabernig would also be happy with the change but Warrnambool Cup-winning trainer Lindsey Smith was against the idea.
"I think moving the Warrnambool Cup to the Wednesday would enhance the carnival," Wilde said.
"I think it would be a positive move. It's a $300,000 race and deserves to have a higher profile then what it gets on the Thursday."
Dabernig described the proposal as positive and he would support the move while Smith, who won the 2020 Warrnambool Cup with Too Close The Sun, said he was a traditionalist.
"I don't think there's anything wrong with running the cup on the Thursday," he said.
"I don't like messing around with history in racing. I've seen it happen before and it hasn't worked.
"I can't see much wrong with the programming for the carnival. Years ago, I saw Western Australian racing make some changes to its feature races and it's never improved over there, to be more specific the changes have failed."
Any decision to change the program for the 2023 carnival would need to be made before December so Racing Victoria could finalise its schedule.
Sixty-nine per cent of people who responded to The Standard's poll were against the changes.
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