The success in luring champion jumps rider Ruby Walsh to Australia has prompted Racing Victoria to introduce an international jockeys’ challenge to a new two-day carnival at Ballarat.
The Irish-based jockey travelled to Victoria in August and guided Bashboy to victory in the Grand National Steeplechase.
The new two-day carnival on August 20 and 21 next year will host six jumps races including the Grand National on the second day.
The flat races programmed on the opening day will be run as highweight races for jumps jockeys.
RV’s manager of racing operations and jumps racing Paul Bloodworth said it was hoped the initiative would attract leading riders from Ireland to take part in the jockeys’ challenge.
The Grand National has had its prize money increased from $250,000 to $350,000 with the Grand Annual Steeplechase, run at Warrnambool in May, receiving a $50,000 boost to $300,000.
Bashboy, the winner of three of the past four Grand Nationals, will be unable to tackle the race next year because of the change of date.
The feature has traditionally been run in July but was delayed a week this year because of a heavy track at Ballarat.
A Racing Australia rule prohibiting 13-year-old horses from competition will prevent Bashboy contesting the race in its new timeslot which is three weeks after the horses’ birthday on August 1.
The Grand National Hurdle returns to Sandown in 2016 after being run this year at Warrnambool with the Grand National Steeplechase being the last feature meeting on the jumps racing calendar.
The new Pakenham track is also set to hold races over the obstacles next year.
The jumps racing season kicks off at Warrnambool on March 8 and concludes at Coleraine on September 25.
A total of 63 races will be run, 42 over hurdles and 21 over the bigger jumps.
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au