By Nick Carne
Mad March is a great time to visit Adelaide and now “million-dollar May” looks set to become a tourist drawcard of a different kind.
For the first time, there will be two events with seven-figure prize money on the program for the Adelaide Racing Carnival at Morphettville this year, and the State Government and Thoroughbred Racing SA (TRSA) believe this will be a real game changer.
The purse for both the UBET Classic and the Darley Goodwood has more than doubled, and that is expected to attract top fields and keen punters who like to see the best horses and jockeys going through their paces.
That was highlighted back in 2012, when champion Black Caviar won both races, and 30,000 people turned out each time to watch the spectacle.
Fourteen other races run during the six-week autumn period also will offer higher prize money thanks to new Government funding, and an additional $100,000 has been provided just to promote the Carnival.
Racing Minister Leon Bignell said May provided “the best window of opportunity” for South Australia to take centre stage on the Australian racing landscape and he also expected significant interest from the New Zealand and Asian markets.
“The State Government wants to ensure we continue to grow our record $6.2 billion visitor economy and these races in May will attract more interstate and international visitors – a period of time which traditionally has the lowest hotel occupancy rates,” he said.
The Adelaide Carnival is certainly gaining more prestige. TRSA chair Frances Nelson says the number and quality of starters has been increasing over the past three years. “This increase in prize money not only provides that critical impetus for attracting bigger and better fields, but it’s also another important step for South Australian racing in general,” she said.
The racing industry employs more than 3200 people in SA and already generates more than $300 million a year for the economy.