New $1 million sprint series set to sizzle this summer

8 November 2021 Written by VRC

Racing Victoria (RV) and Melbourne’s three metropolitan clubs will launch the inaugural ‘Summer Sprint Series’ this December, comprising four Stakes races run over distances from 1000m to 1200m and offering a combined $1 million in prizemoney.

The new series will kick off with the $200,000 Listed Kensington Stakes (1000m) at Flemington on 11 December, followed by the $200,000 Listed Nick Johnstone Real Estate Christmas Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield on Boxing Day, the $250,000 Group 3 Standish Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on 15 January and the $350,000 Group 2 MA Services Group Australia Stakes (1200m) at The Valley on 29 January.

Prizemoney for the four races – two of which find new homes on the calendar – has collectively increased by $360,000 from the 2020-21 racing season and will see $1 million up for grabs across the four legs.

In addition to the lucrative prize pool, further incentives are also on offer with the winner of the Christmas Stakes exempt from the ballot for the Group 1 Neds Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield, and the winners of both the Standish Handicap and the Australia Stakes granted exemption in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington.

“The $1 million Summer Sprint Series is an exciting new initiative which we hope will lead to an increase in field sizes and the quality of these races, giving connections the option of running their star sprinters in all four legs of the series,” said Greg Carpenter, RV’s Executive General Manager – Racing.

“There are now a million reasons to target these four races, and the added incentive of a place in two of the autumn’s feature sprint races should ensure that the Summer Sprint Series captures the attention of trainers and owners.

“We would like to thank our three metropolitan clubs for their support and assistance in launching this new initiative, and we look forward to seeing some of the country’s fastest horses in action in Melbourne across the summer.”

Previously, the Christmas Stakes had been scheduled only six days before the Standish Handicap, which will now move to mid-January from its former slot on New Year’s Day.

The Standish Handicap will effectively replace the Kensington Stakes on 15 January 2022, with the Kensington Stakes switching to the Flemington meeting on 11 December 2021.
Replacing the Standish Handicap on Flemington’s New Year’s Day fixture will be the Listed Chester Manifold Stakes (1400m) which moves from 15 January 2022 to feature alongside the Listed Bagot Handicap (2800m).

In an additional change, the Christmas Stakes, which had previously been run over 1200m at Caulfield, has been reduced to 1100m in order to provide a better sequence and distance offering for sprinters.

A summary of the $1 million Summer Sprint Series is as follows:

Race Distance Track Date 2020-21 Prizemoney 2021-22 Prizemoney
LR Kensington Stakes 1000m Flemington 11/12/21 $140,000 $200,000
LR Christmas Stakes 1100m Caulfield 26/12/21 $140,000 $200,000
G3 Standish Handicap 1200m Flemington 15/1/22 $160,000 $250,000
G2 Australia Stakes 1200m The Valley 29/1/22 $200,000 $350,000

Image: Caption can be “Former Standish Handicap winner Halvorsen (Image: Racing Photos)