VRC shocked at not being told about new cups penalty policy

Senior VRC officials and long-time members, irate at not being informed that a watered-down penalty system would be in place for this year's Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, will investigate having the new condition vetoed.

And chairman Amanda Elliott, said that she was taken by surprise when Racing Victoria handicapper Greg Carpenter announced changes to the penalty structure that had stood for more than a century.

Elliott, who took over as chairman late last year, said that she was "very, very disappointed" at not being informed of the change.

"I heard it for the first time in the public announcement yesterday," Elliott told RSN 927.

"Change that makes sense obviously we're all about, but not being part of the process for the most important race in Australia - which is our race - seemed extraordinary," she said.

On Tuesday, Carpenter announced that no winner of the Caulfield Cup that carried a weight of 56 kilograms or more would face a penalty. And those under 56kg may be penalised but their weight cannot go above 56kg.

Elliott said that she had even "reached out" to Racing Victoria chairman Mike Hirst, who said that he had also heard nothing about the changes to two of Australia's oldest and most important races.

It has created a huge wedge between the VRC and the Melbourne Racing Club, who have driven the campaign for a penalty-free Caulfield Cup.

"Well, for heaven's sake, it's the Melbourne Cup. It's the biggest show in town. It's not some maiden at Woop Woop," Elliott said.

"This needs terrific thought, and Greg has said he's gone back 40 years, and done an extensive review of the linkage between the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup. Wiser heads than mine will be able to tell you that the Melbourne Cup has changed dramatically over the last 10 years.

"The Melbourne Cup, since the internationalisation, has not gone backwards - it has become an unbelievably good international race. Whatever the bona fides of changes to the penalties linking the two races, I'm not sure is in the best interests of the Melbourne Cup, and as chairman of the VRC, that is my main concern."

Elliott said that Carpenter had told her that he had the authority to make the change.

"If the Caulfield Cup is becoming so irrelevant, why have we got to downsize the Melbourne Cup to give the Caulfield Cup some relevance?" one VRC committeeman said.

"This penalty scheme has been run by the Melbourne Racing Club and suddenly they thought they had got away with it."

An RVL spokesman said last night: "The VRC feel that they weren't given sufficient input on the position our handicapping team have taken regarding their policy on the issuing of penalties to Emirates Melbourne Cup entrants. RV and the VRC will work through this to ensure that no such concerns may be raised into the future.

"It is our firm view that both the Emirates Melbourne Cup and BMW Caulfield Cup will be enhanced by the new handicapping policy, which in turn broadens the appeal of the spring racing carnival."

This story VRC shocked at not being told about new cups penalty policy first appeared on Brisbane Times.