Victoria's race programs set to feature two new classes

Following consultation with industry stakeholders, Racing Victoria (RV) will introduce two new race classes to the upcoming program with 0-62 and Benchmark 74 races both set to debut in June. 

As part of RV’s ongoing consultation process and review of the horse population, race program and field sizes in Victoria, the two new classes have been chosen for introduction. The program adjustments are designed to increase the existing options for trainers to place their horses and to maximise returns for owners. 

The 0-62 races will be included in the forthcoming country race program, with the Benchmark 74 races set to be an addition to the metropolitan program on both Wednesdays and Saturdays. 

A selection of 0-62 and Benchmark 74 races will be run across June and July, with a view to increasing the volume next season, starting 1 August, should they be well supported.

“We take an open and collaborative approach to race programming,” said RV’s EGM – Racing, Matt Welsh. 

“After seeking feedback from the Australian Trainers’ Association (ATA), leading stable managers, individual trainers and other participant groups, we have decided to introduce these two new race classes to the calendar. 

“They are designed to widen the range of opportunities for trainers and owners to find the right races for their horses, so we are confident they will be well received by the wider industry. 

“We will continue to work closely with the ATA, trainers and key stakeholders to evolve the program to best suit their needs.” 

ATA Chief Executive, Stephen Bell, said; “We commend RV on this decision and their engagement through this consultation process. They have acted upon the wishes of the Association and trainers to deliver more programming options.

“We think these two new classes will provide further flexibility for trainers and are a welcome addition to Victoria’s racing program.”

Outside of maiden class, the bulk of Victoria’s racehorse population – approximately 40 per cent – features up to Benchmark 64 grade (including Class 1 races), with industry participants requesting additional opportunities and more variation to the existing program for horses in this bracket.

In June 2022, in response to industry feedback RV introduced over 100 0-64 contests per season for horses within this grade, with these now balanced by the introduction of some 0-62 races. An ongoing assessment of their progress and performance will determine whether any further changes are required to the program. 

The new Benchmark 74 races will be added to the metropolitan race program as a replacement for existing Benchmark 70 or Benchmark 78 races. 

More than 10 per cent of races in Victoria (in excess of 400) are run at either Benchmark 70 or Benchmark 78 class during the season. At least 40 of these will now be converted to Benchmark 74s, with the option to add more should field sizes demand it.