Moving sales date doesn't help babies

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 December, 2010, 12:00am

Now that the Jockey Club's International Sale has been moved to a pre-Derby date on the calendar in March, not only will it need renaming but it bodes ill for the future of what has already become an endangered part of the racing scene.

In the 1990s, griffin races - the rough equivalent of two-year-old racing in other jurisdictions where northern and southern hemisphere age groups are not as jumbled up together as they are here - began well before the international meeting.

Over time, particularly in the more recent past, that starting point has been further and further into the season. The Jockey Club has cited low turnouts, and lower betting interest in races that often feature long odds-on favourites, as reasons to be less than enthusiastic about them, despite the quality of horse that has consistently been thrown up by griffin racing.

With the International Sale horses being a major provider of runners in these juvenile races - last season 32 of the 80 griffin runners were Sale horses - moving the date has brought a further push back of the griffin events to April. That isn't the end of the season, but you sure can see it from there.

Is it a bad thing? Well, in this environment there are benefits to the griffin races from a horse development point of view - the babies get to run and at least gain some experience against their own generation instead of waiting for September, when they will be tossed into Class Four, or even Class Three for the winners, against much more battle-hardened horses.

Horses like Admiration and Captain Sweet, among others, spring to mind as two-year-olds we saw last season as griffins with their L-plates on, and they gained some race sense and knowledge to take to the break before returning as the highly promising types we see now. In the recent past, the same could be said of Group One horses like Good Ba Ba, Scintillation and The Duke.