INCOMING Albury Racing Club chief Steve Hetherton has welcomed the return of the traditional two-day format of the Albury Gold Cup Carnival.
ARC ended the tradition of a Thursday-Friday carnival two years ago when it secured a heat of the rich country championships series and held the event on the Sunday before the Gold Cup.
The country championships heat returned to Wagga last year, but Albury retained the split days arrangement.
This year for the first time Albury hosted the Country Championships in February followed by the two-day carnival starting on March 21 with the highlight of the first day being the $50,000 City Hcp, (1175m).
Hetherton said he expected the return to the traditional two-day format would help invigorate Albury’s biggest social event.
“The excitement generated by reverting back to a two-day Albury Gold Cup Carnival is shared by many stakeholders across our region,” Hetherton said.
“We expect to see more trainers bringing in larger teams of quality horses all vying for the $670,000 in prizemoney on offer across the carnival which in turn should see stronger fields.
“The feedback from trainers is previously you had 16 or 17 great races on the Thursday-Friday and people were prepared to bring horses and stay overnight.
“People like coming for a couple of days because it was worthwhile.
“The local businesses benefit more with some people even staying three days.”
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Canberra trainer Barbara Joseph is a long-time supporter of the Albury carnival and previously had up to 15 runners over the two days.
Last year Joseph only had one runner on Albury Gold Cup day.
“Getting rid of the two day carnival – I think they’ve shot themselves in the foot by going that way,” Joseph said.
“It’s lost its carnival atmosphere in my opinion and in other years we’ve brought over 10 to 15 horses with quite a few running on the Thursday so owners aren’t coming across either.”
The Albury Gold Cup date once again clashes with big meetings in Melbourne and Sydney.
Moonee Valley will host the group 1 William Reid Stakes on the same night as the Albury feature with the Mornington Cup the following day.
Sydney also has four group 1 races the following day including the Golden Slipper and Rosehill Guineas.
Despite the clashes, Hetherton remained confident that the biggest stables would still support the Riverina's richest race.
"You are always going to get clashes with Sydney and Melbourne at this time of the year," he said.
"But I'm confident with the return of the two-day format that the club can draw another huge crowd to what is one of biggest day's in the regions calendar."