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Caulfield Cup's major surgery; Australian action after last year's shock British win.

THE Victoria Amateur Turf Club has confirmed major changes to the conditions of the Foster's Caulfield Cup, which was won in controversial circumstances last year by British raider Taufan's Melody.

The changes are seen as trying to avoid the embarrassment that accompanied last year's running, when Taufan's Melody was granted dispensation to run although he did not comply with earnings requirements.

The Lady Herries-trained gelding, ridden by Ray Cochrane, went on to record a 66-1 upset.

The Caulfield Cup field will now be determined by performance in Group races rather than total purses won.

Dale Monteith, the VATC chief executive, said the Club's committee had also moved to clear up confusion surrounding the conditions of entry to the race.

He explained that it was crucial that those owners and trainers intending to enter their horse for the Caulfield Cup clearly understood the conditions.

Monteith said: "There was much misunderstanding last year as to the intent of the conditions, particularly in regard to the mistaken belief that horses can qualify for a run in the race as distinct from meeting balloting conditions.

"The conditions are now very clear in that they relate to the elimination of surplus horses at final acceptance time.

"The conditions have also been amended to take into account a horse's entire career instead of applying from a particular date, with greater emphasis on black-type performances as opposed to prize-money earned."

Monteith added: "Given the significant prize-money offered by the Club, it is the committee's intention to ensure the best possible field runs in the race. This is reinforced by the retention of the committee's discretionary clause in the conditions."

The chief executive said a third declaration stage would also be introduced to overcome problems encountered before final acceptance time last year, when 63 horses remained in the race.

The third declaration will be taken on Monday, October 5, one week before the final acceptances.

Total prize-money for this year's race will rise from A$1.5 million last year to A$1.77 million (pounds 700,000).

nLast year's Melbourne Cup runner-up Champagne, trained in New Zealand by Laurie Laxon, has been retired.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Brennan, Syd
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Apr 3, 1999
Words:356
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