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Messara Says Sydney Carnival "Not Working"

Friday, 15th July 2011

Arrowfield Stud boss John Messara “has reignited debate about the Sydney Autumn carnival, declaring the fixed dates concept is not working” reported The Daily Telegraph. Messara “called on Racing NSW & the Australian Turf Club to go back to the future & return to the traditional Easter week of Gr1 racing at Royal Randwick”. The fixed dates concept (which has the Gr1 Golden Slipper at Rosehill Gardens on the 1st Saturday in April, followed 7 days later by the Gr1 AJC Australian Derby at Royal Randwick) “is set to remain in place for next year at least”. But Messara (who conceded he was among those who pushed for the Sydney Autumn carnival to have fixed dates) has now changed his mind & declared: “It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I am putting my hand up now - I do not think it is working. It is time to go back to the future, reclaim the Easter dates & restore the historical sequence of race-meetings on Easter Saturday, Easter Monday, Wednesday & the closing Saturday. It is time now to cut our losses & admit that we made a mistake.” Messara emphasised that “attracting & holding public interest in the Autumn Carnival over several weeks is proving too difficult”. However, Racing NSW chief executive Peter V'landys said there is a “contractual obligation” with Events NSW to trial the Sydney Autumn Carnival with fixed dates for 3 years & noted: “There is still 1 year to go on that contract & then it will be reviewed.” Messara explained his “change of heart has come about after attending 3 of the world's major racing events in the past 12 months - Royal Ascot, Melbourne Cup Carnival & the Dubai World Cup. He said: “The common theme here is that the signature meetings in those 3 countries concentrate prestigious racing & supporting events into a brief span of time. This helps to make a racing carnival a destination for local & international spectators. I believe the current Sydney Autumn Carnival has forfeited its status as a destination meeting.”

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