Zipping Handicap favourite Grinzinger Star (Image: Racing Photos)
The Living Legends Raceday at Flemington tomorrow (Saturday, 4 May) will feature the opening leg of The Mahogany Challenge, a new seven-race series exclusive to three-year-olds which will cement Victoria’s status as the home of the stayers.
Culminating in a $150,000 finale at Flemington, The Mahogany Challenge will incorporate three staying races at Flemington, two at Caulfield and two at Sandown, with the contests worth a combined $875,000 in prizemoney.
The series is named after Mahogany, who was raced jointly by Hall of Fame owner Lloyd Williams and businessman Kerry Packer, and trained by Lee Freedman. He won eight Group 1 races, including both the Victoria Derby and Australian Derby as a three-year-old, and was named the Australian Racehorse of the Year for the 1993-94 season.
All heat winners will be exempt from the ballot for The Mahogany Challenge final, a 2500m contest which will be held on Flemington Finals Day on Saturday, 6 July. The remainder of the 16-runner field will be made up of horses which have acquired the highest number of points. Horses level on points will be balloted firstly on handicap ratings, and then on prizemoney.
Points in each heat are awarded to runners on the following basis: 1st: 10 points; 2nd: 8 pts; 3rd: 7 pts; 4th: 6 pts; 5th: 5 pts; 6th: 4 pts; 7th: 3 pts; 8th: 2 pts; others: 1 pt.
“The Mahogany Challenge is an exciting new initiative which enhances Racing Victoria’s commitment to programming staying races,” said Greg Carpenter, RV’s Executive General Manager – Racing.
“Bringing the A.R. Creswick Stakes for three-year-old sprinters forward by two weeks provided an opportunity to create a new concept for Flemington Finals Day, and a staying race for three-year-olds fitted perfectly into the program.
“In addition to the revamped The Andrew Ramsden, which this month offers ballot exemption to the Lexus Melbourne Cup for the first time, and the Jericho Cup, which was introduced at Warrnambool this season, The Mahogany Challenge will ensure that Victoria furthers its status as the home of staying races.”
Leigh Jordon, the Victoria Racing Club’s (VRC) Executive General Manager Racing, said: “The VRC is delighted to host the opening two heats and the final of The Mahogany Challenge at Flemington with the first heat, the Zipping Handicap, to be held tomorrow on Living Legends Raceday.
“We look forward to seeing these three-year-old stayers develop and hopefully target races such as The Bart Cummings, Lexus Stakes, Queen Elizabeth Stakes, The Andrew Ramsden and, ultimately, the Lexus Melbourne Cup in the future.
“With the support of part-owner Lloyd Williams, it’s special to see the 1993-94 Australian Horse of the Year Mahogany recognised in the naming of the challenge, with the Lee Freedman-trained galloper having won Flemington features including the AAMI Victoria Derby, Australian Guineas and Lightning Stakes.”
The opening leg of the Mahogany Challenge is the Zipping Handicap (2000m), which is scheduled for 2.15pm tomorrow.
The full schedule for the Mahogany Challenge is as follows:
HEAT VENUE DATE RACE
1 Flemington 4 May $135k 3YO Handicap 2000m
2 Flemington 18 May $135k 3YO Handicap 2000m
3 Caulfield 1 June $135k 3YO Handicap 2000m
4 Sandown 15 June $135k 3YO Handicap 2100m
5 Sandown 19 June $50k 3YO Handicap 2400m
6 Caulfield 26 June $135k 3YO Handicap 2000m
7 Flemington 6 July $150k 3YO Handicap 2500m