The first day of The Championships hit its targets but racing authorities are already making sure the only way is up with a plan to bring it forward a week from next year as part of a revamp of the Sydney Carnival.
The brand of The Championships has been established in just four months but Fairfax Media has learned of discussions for it to be scheduled in the first two weeks of April in 2015 and beyond.
"We have been approached by Racing NSW to the move The Championships to the first two weeks of April and we have reserved from rights about it until we can make a full and frank review of the whole carnival," Australian Turf Club chief executive Darren Pearce said.
"It would have ramifications for the races earlier in the carnival clashing with Melbourne and the Dubai World Cup meeting would fall on the same day as the Golden Slipper - but we can see some advantages as well. Nothing has been decided yet."
The meeting at Randwick has given Sydney racing a focal point once again with 24,959 punters braving the wet weather on Saturday and a similar crowd expected next Saturday for $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Should the entire Sydney Carnival move forward a week, it will allow The Championships meetings to bookend the Easter Sales at Newmarket and make a racing event the envy of the world.
It will also set-up of a series of Turf races in Australia and Asia that is hoped to be attractive to international stables, including group 1 racing in Sydney, Brisbane, Hong Kong and Singapore.
It would be the best program of turf races in the world for the biggest prizemoney during April and May and allow horses to return to Europe for its summer of racing.
Racing officials will discuss how to promote the racing festival throughout the region at next month’s Asian Racing Carnival in Hong Kong.
The first day of the Championships attracted a bigger crowd to Randwick on Saturday than Black Caviar's final appearance did a year earlier. The TAB turnover was up 13 percent and on-course bookmakers holds were almost doubled, which is even more impressive given the awful weather and the very heavy track. which usually deters many punters.
“The crowd and support of Sydney for the day has given us great confidence that we would have got near 35,000 in good weather,” Pearce said.
“There's been a great buzz among people through all the marquees and public areas and they have supported us in great numbers. We are hoping for a better day of weather next week for day two in what is certain to be another sensational day’s racing and socialising in the first steps to building this great event.”
Racing NSW officials acknowledged the haste with which The Championships had to be put together meant the ideal dates could be used this year. They believe the change of dates will only strengthen the event.
There will be a review of the entire Sydney Carnival in the next couple of months, which will centre on making a more effective program for the autumn and pathways-to-The Championships races.
The international nature of the breeding industry means the dates for the Easter Sale are locked in because the international buying bench has to be at Craven Breeze Up Sale in England this week. Moving The Championships was the only option to fall in line with the sales.
The opening day of The Championships would fall on Easter Saturday next year and it is hoped that quarantine protocols will make it easier for international horses to come to Sydney.
Next year’s Championships will include a Wednesday meeting at Randwick featuring at least one group 1, likely to be the Sires’ Produce Stakes, and possibly another Championship race. It will be followed by a night session of the Easter Sale.
The Championships move will make it easier for horses to travel on to Hong Kong for its Queen Elizabeth Cup on the final weekend of April and the Champions Mile on the first Sunday in May.
Irish raider Gordon Lord Byron took that opportunity this year and was able to get assistance from Racing NSW and Hong Kong Jockey Club, which secured his place in Sydney.
It is hoped that International horses which run during the Melbourne spring would find the offering lucrative enough to spend the summer in Australia before targeting races in the autumn.
The Brisbane winter carnival could also be adjusted to allow group 1 sprinters the option of running in the TJ Smith Stakes, won empathically on Saturday by Lankan Rupee, and the BTC Cup. It could be moved to fit in with an international program for Royal Ascot and the Krisflyer Sprint in Singapore at the end of May.
There is also consideration being given to having an Australian program of 2000m group 1 races, which would help the Singapore International Cup at the end of May.