Over a century of tradition could be scrapped as Victorian racing chiefs consider bumping the Melbourne Cup from the first Tuesday in November.
The chief executives of the Melbourne Racing Club, Moonee Valley Racing Club and Victoria Racing Club will meet this month to discuss the greatest shake-up of feature races in the history of the Spring Racing Carnival.
A key discussion point will be whether the entire carnival should be pushed back by as much as a fortnight, in part to shrug off the lingering news-grabbing of the AFL season and take advantage of a November period regarded as “vacant land’’ for sport.
A club official yesterday confirmed that a new date for the race that stops a nation would be discussed at what he described as “a normal briefing between clubs”.
He said talk of wholesale carnival change had been “loosely’’ discussed for years, but it had become more pressing since the MRC announced a planned change to the Caulfield Cup.
The curtain-raiser for the six-week spring carnival, Flemington’s Turnbull Stakes day, has for the past two years been pushed to the Sunday after the Grand Final.
Tinkering to the AFL season has provided this year’s Turnbull meeting with a week’s breathing space but racing officials are concerned that the ongoing spectre of the AFL even after the Grand Final, including trade week, has robbed racing of some of its time in the sun.
The TAB reported significant revenue drops in the years the Turnbull has run directly after the AFL.
The Melbourne Cup was first run in 1861, on a Thursday, and was first run on the first Tuesday of November — becoming an iconic date in Australian culture — in 1875.
The only break in the date was in 1916, when it was washed out and run the following Saturday, and during World War 2, when run on a Saturday from 1942 to 1944.