Saturday 10th race returning for reduced period

Racing Victoria (RV) has today announced that 10-race Saturday metropolitan meetings will return in the 2024-25 season for a reduced period of eight months.

The first 10-race card will be the Group 1 Memsie Stakes meeting on 31 August 2024 at Caulfield with the last at the same track on 26 April 2025.

The decision comes on the back of a successful trial in the current racing season and extensive consultation with Clubs and industry stakeholders, both throughout the trial and at its conclusion.

The 10-month trial, from August 2023 to May 2024, generated gross wagering revenue of $5 million. This supported the payment of an additional $2.8 million in prizemoney to a range of participants and owners, with the balance invested back into the industry.

An additional 34 Saturday metropolitan races were run as part of the trial with average field sizes noticeably higher than meeting averages. Those races were won by 27 trainers and 28 jockeys ensuring the opportunities and prizemoney were shared by many.

In making today’s announcement, RV confirmed the following:

  • The programming of 10 races for selected meetings has been confirmed for the 2024-25 season and will continue to be reviewed through the season in line with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs);
  • In addition to Club and stakeholder feedback, the KPIs will include ongoing analysis of track performance for each venue, field sizes both on Saturdays and across the week, wagering outcomes both on Saturdays and across the week, and the return on investment to owners, trainers and Clubs;
  • The reduction from 10 to eight months seeks to strike a balance between maximising returns to the industry and looking after tracks during periods of colder weather and less growth;
  • The number of Saturday metropolitan meetings programmed with 10-races will be reduced from 40 in the current season to 32 in the 2024-25 season, noting that several feature meetings were already conducted with 10 races prior to this season;
  • The 10th race will again carry prizemoney of $80,000, thus ensuring the retention of over $2.1 million in prizemoney added to Saturday metropolitan meetings for the current season trial;
  • The conditions of the additional 10th race will largely mirror that of the initial trial period, with the majority being open benchmarks with a selection of Challenger and Aspirant races to be programmed after the Spring Racing Carnival;
  • At the request of the VRC, the two Saturdays of the Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington – Derby Day and Champions Day – will remain nine race meetings. Further, AFL Grand Final Day at Sandown will again feature eight races;
  • It is RV’s intention, subject to any extenuating circumstances that may arise, to not start programmed 10-race cards prior to 12 noon during the 2024-25 season:
  •  The arrival time for horses in Races 1 and 2 will remain at the reduced time of 90 minutes, meaning the time participants are required on course remains 10 minutes later than in the 2022-23 season;
  • The finish time of the Pakenham Synthetic Finals meeting on Friday night, 30 August 2024 – the eve of the first 10-race card at Caulfield – has been brought forward 30 minutes to 8.15pm; and
  • The earlier finish time for Friday night meetings in April – which were brought forward 30 minutes to 8.45pm as part of the trial – will be retained in 2025.

Quotes attributable to RV Executive General Manager- Racing, Matt Welsh

“We’re pleased to confirm the 10-race Saturday metropolitan model for the 2024-25 season following extensive analysis of this season’s trial and broad consultation with Clubs and stakeholders.

“Based on the feedback received and our analysis of the performance of the 10th race, we have landed on a model that will see 10-race cards programmed eight months of the year, during periods where days are longer.

“We believe this is a balanced outcome that maximises returns to the industry, whilst managing workloads on tracks and remaining forever conscious of participant welfare.

“Saturday metropolitan meetings represent 10 percent of our product but deliver 40 percent of our wagering turnover. It is the peak timeslot for punters to engage and WSPs have reinforced that post trial.

“The 10th race has provided more racing when our customers most want to watch and, as a result, it has delivered additional revenue to help fund the industry.

“The 10th race has also provided more owners, trainers and jockeys the chance to compete on racing’s biggest day of the week and share in the spoils. To see 27 different trainers and 28 jockeys win the 34 additional races is fantastic for Victorian racing and its diversity.

“In instituting the initial trial, we were conscious of minimising the length of the raceday. The majority were extended by only 15 minutes, while trainers and stable staff in the opening races were able to arrive later than in previous seasons through changes made.

“We will remain focused on minimising the length of the raceday wherever possible. It is our objective to not start any programmed 10-race cards prior to 12 noon next season and we’ll be working with relevant parties to achieve that.

“I want to thank our Clubs and stakeholders for their insights into the current trial. They provided valuable feedback around track performance and their raceday experiences that have helped shape a balanced approach for the 2024-25 season.

“We will continue to liaise closely with them throughout the coming season and critically analyse the return on investment for the industry through the wagering outcomes, whilst monitoring track performance and field sizes.”