Huge Aussie prize money increases a shot in the arm for international racing

It was worth A$3 million when Winx won it last year, but today's announcement means the G1 Cox Plate, Australia’s leading weight-for-age middle distance race, will be truly one of the world's richest races when the mare, pictured with trainer Chris Waller, goes for her fourth straight win in it this October. Photo: Chris Waller Racing

Victorian horse racing’s Big Three - the Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m), the Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) and the Stella Artois Caulfield Cup (2400m) – will all carry record prize money this year after hefty increases were announced by Racing Victoria today.

The Melbourne Cup received an A$1 million lift to A$7.3 million (US$5.5m) while the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate become A$5 million (US$3.8m) races after 40 per cent increases on the existing levels of A$3 million.

A total of A$12.4 million of prize money will be poured into prize money across the state from the beginning of the new season in August. As well as addressing prize money levels at the top end, Racing Victoria has also moved to bolster 67 country cups and other minor races across the state.

The investment will see a record A$228.5 million in prize money and bonuses on offer in Victoria next season, representing a 32 per cent increase since 2015 and leading to a nation high average of A$52,057 in prizemoney and bonuses on offer per race.

As a major racing destination and trading partner for New Zealand-trained and New Zealand-bred horses, the prizemoney boost will be a significant shot in the arm for those involved in the New Zealand Thoroughbred industry, as well as providing significant new incentives for connections from further afield to target Australia.

    “We already export the best part of a third of our foal crop to Australia and across-the-board prize money increases in Victoria are a positive for our industry,” New Zealand Thoroughbred Marketing Chief Executive Andrew Birch said. 

    “We are fortunate to have a strong racing jurisdiction like Australia on our doorstep. The Victorian focus on bolstering middle distance and staying races is a positive for the New Zealand-bred horse.

    “If we can work towards a more efficient domestic racing industry, then we have the perfect platform for the breeding and racing industry to flourish. 

    The other highlights of today's announcement are:

    • Continued investment in 3-year-old racing with Australia’s oldest classic, the G1 AAMI Victoria Derby (Flemington, November 3), raised by $500,000 to A$2 million.
    • A prize money boost for every country cup with an additional A$1.2 million to be spread across 67 TAB, non-TAB and picnic cups, ensuring they remain a focal point for local communities to celebrate and enjoy,
    • The further consolidation of Victoria’s place as the home of stayers with the G2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m, The Valley, October 27) increased by A$200,000 to A$500,000.
    • Greater returns for first-time winners, with minimum prize money for standard country maidens raised to A$23,000, for premium country maidens to A$26,000 and for maidens at midweek metropolitan meetings to A$30,000.
    • Rewarding grassroots participation, with minimum prize money for non-TAB meetings up 20 per cent to A$12,000 per race; up 25 per cent for country SKY2 meetings to A$15,000 per race; and up 11 per cent for Benchmark 58s to A$20,000 per race.
    • An increase in minimum metropolitan prize money to A$40,000 for all 2-year-old, 3-year-old and Benchmark races at midweek and standard Friday night meetings, before rising to an A$60,000 minimum per race for premium Friday nights at The Valley.
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