Carpenter drops big hint: Caulfield Cup winner may not be penalised into Melbourne Cup

Carpenter drops big hint: Caulfield Cup winner may not be penalised into Melbourne Cup

The link between the Caulfield Cup and the Melbourne Cup is an historic one, but it’s not one we’ve seen much of in recent years.

From the last 10 Melbourne Cup winners, only one has even run in the Caulfield Cup – Viewed in 2008, Bart Cummings’ last Melbourne Cup winner.

The last dual Caulfield-Melbourne Cup winner was the great mare Ethereal, winning both in 2001 as a four-year-old. She earned a 2kg penalty for her win.

The penalty is the problem. The solution in recent times for classy horses not wanting a penalty has either been to not run at all, or run in the Cox Plate – a weight-for-age race over 2040m that attracts no penalty for a winner, and is also ballot exempt for the Melbourne Cup.

The debate was kick-started after the Melbourne Racing Club pressured Almandin’s owners (namely Lloyd Williams) to run the 2016 Melbourne Cup winner in the Caulfield Cup, where he is nominated.

Nick Williams, spokesperson for Almandin’s ownership, guaranteed he would run in the Caulfield Cup, with one condition: if Almandin won, he wouldn’t be penalised into the Melbourne Cup.

Racing Victoria (RV) has given a big clue that the Caulfield Cup winner may not be re-handicapped.

Greg Carpenter, who is RV’s executive general manager of racing, but better known as RV’s handicapper, said he’s been researching the issue and will offer comment when weights are released for both Cups on Tuesday, September 12th.

“That debate has been reignited in the last week or two,” Carpenter told Racing.com.

“The Melbourne Racing Club is continuing their push for the Caulfield Cup winner not to get a (Melbourne Cup) penalty.

“There has always been a wonderful link between the Caulfield and Melbourne Cup.

“That has been lost a little in the last decade as, of the last 10 Melbourne Cup winners, only one (Viewed in 2008) has run in the Caulfield Cup.

“I’m really keen to re-establish that link and I’ll talk about that on Tuesday when I release the weights.”

“The VRC [Victoria Racing Club], through their racing manager Martin Talty, has made it very clear that they are happy to leave it ([ecision on penalty] entirely up to me.

“I don’t have to penalise the winner of the Caulfield Cup. They [VRC] would like to maintain the ability for the Caulfield Cup winner to be penalised if I feel it appropriate.

“So, one of my main research projects this year has been around that link. It’s been a very hot topic again in the last two weeks.”

This would be a big change to the way the two handicaps have been contested. The hints are too strong – I’d now be more surprised if Carpenter didn’t announce that the Caulfield Cup winner wasn’t re-handicapped.

It also does away with some of the push that was behind changing the Caulfield Cup to weight-for-age scale, which would massively hurt that race.

If Carpenter is good to his word, we’ll see a shake-up in Cox Plate and Caulfield Cup runners.

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