The decision to reduce the May Carnival from three days and restructure the program was made in consultation with Country Racing Victoria (CRV) and the Australian Jumping Racing Association (AJRA) in light of the impacts of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
With racing being conducted in Victoria under strict biosecurity protocols, the WRC announced on 20 March 2020 that this year’s May Carnival would be closed to all spectators, including members, owners and the general public.
Today, RV and the WRC have announced that the May Carnival will host its first all-jumps meeting on Tuesday, 5 May with the flagship Grand Annual Steeplechase (5500m) to headline a program of up to eight jumps races.
Traditional day one and two features, the Brierly Steeplechase (3450m) and Galleywood Hurdle (3200m), will also feature on what shapes as the biggest jumps racing program ever conducted in Victoria.
The second and final day of the May Carnival will be held on Wednesday, 6 May with a nine race program exclusive to flat racing and headlined by WRC showpiece events, the Warrnambool Cup (2350m, Listed) and the Wangoom Handicap (1200m, Listed).
The decision to split the May Carnival into days exclusively for jumps and flat racing has been made to significantly reduce the number of participants needing to stay in Warrnambool and to assist in the logistics of conducting a streamlined event with essential staff only.
Following the announcement made by RV on Monday regarding prizemoney reductions to all Victorian races from 6 April 2020, prizemoney for all races across the revamped two-day May Carnival has been reduced by 10%.
The Thursday, 7 May 2020 timeslot previously allocated to Warrnambool will be transferred to another Club with the transfer venue and new program to be announced at a later date.
RV Executive General Manager – Racing, Greg Carpenter, said: “The TAB Warrnambool May Carnival is an institution in Victorian racing and it is an incredible blow for the Club, local businesses and racing fans that it cannot proceed in its traditional format in 2020.
“With the strict biosecurity protocols in place to allow for the continuation of racing in Victoria without crowds, we have had to re-imagine this year’s May Carnival to provide a program that minimises risks, community interaction and the number of essential staff to deliver the event.
“In consultation with the Club, CRV and AJRA, we have determined that a two-day May Carnival with one meeting exclusive to jumps racing and the other to flat racing is the safest format to ensure that we can still conduct Warrnambool’s iconic races.
“The revamped program assists with the logistics of conducting the event, allows us to segregate our jumps and flat jockeys, and significantly reduces the number of participants that need to stay in Warrnambool, which is again unfortunate for local businesses, but a responsible measure for the industry to take.
“It is going to be fascinating to watch what is expected to be our biggest ever jumps racing meeting on Tuesday, 5 May with the famous Grand Annual Steeplechase, Brierly Steeplechase and Galleywood Hurdle all conducted on the one program for the first time.”
WRC Chief Executive, Tom O’Connor, said: “The WRC’s focus has been on supporting the Victorian racing industry and its efforts to safely continue racing under new protocols.
“The year 2020 will mark an unprecedented one for the WRC with the need to host our Carnival over two days with exclusive jumps and flat racing meetings.
“With that said, the Warrnambool community and broader racing industry can be rest assured that this will be a once off. The TAB May Racing Carnival will return over three days in 2021, bigger and better than ever.”
The revamped program for the 2020 TAB Warrnambool May Racing Carnival is as follows:
Day 1 – Tuesday, 5 May (All Jumps Races)
Day 2 – Wednesday, 6 May (All Flat Races)