RACING NSW and Racing Victoria power brokers will meet on Friday in an attempt to work out differences over race times with Peter V'landys promising to champion the punter, after a significant turnover downturn last weekend.

CHRIS ROOTS reports for FAIRFAX MEDIA that punters will again be forced to choose between races in Melbourne and other meetings around the country on Saturday after Racing Victoria opted to extend its 30-minute gap trial for another week rather than have the traditional 35 to 40 minutes between races.

Racing Victoria and Racing NSW have always set their times for the two major meetings and Sky Channel have used that as the basis for the racing schedule. Sky prefers a co-ordinated national approach to make the schedule work and it is up to the leading two states regulators to find common ground.  

The impasse is likely to continue as long as Victoria set its races at 30-minute intervals.

"There has been one renegade state that has unilaterally decided to change its race times to 30 minutes and ruin a national approach and made life tough for everyone," V'landys said.

"TV has ratings and racing has wagering, which is our ratings, and last weekend was a complete and utter disaster. We have to look after our customers and we clearly didn't do that last weekend." 

The result last Saturday was chaos as races clashed and Melbourne racing was bumped from Sky 1 to Sky 2 in favour of lesser meetings. The TAB published figures on Wednesday, which showed the Caulfield meeting turnover was down 2.8 per cent and overall turnover down 10.3 per cent.

"We are going to meet on Friday with John Messara and Peter V'landys [from Racing NSW] in Melbourne to attempt to work on a solution," Racing Victoria chairman David Moodie told Fairfax Media. "We have support from the trainers, owners and jockeys with the 30-minute gaps and it gives a better raceday experience."

Racing Victoria positioned itself to own the top and the bottom of the clock during the trial, racing on the hour and half-hour. It is unlikely to move from that position as they are seen as the optimum time slots.

Racing Victoria chief executive Bernard Saundry told the industry-owned RSN radio station that the trial had been "compromised" by races being moved to Sky Racing 2 and it was one of the reasons for extending it.

Sky has made a couple of changes to its coverage for Saturday. It will lift the subscription for Sky Racing 2 on a one-off basis, while clubs and pubs will also carry the audio of Caulfield races even if the vision is shown on Sky Racing 2.

There are several occasions where Sydney and Melbourne races are only five minutes apart on Saturday, the most significant being between the features, the group 1 Orr Stakes at Caulfield and the group 2 Apollo Stakes where Cox Plate winner Winx resumes.

It will mean Seven Two and Sky Racing 1 will cut straight from Randwick to Caulfield at a cost to turnover and again frustrating punters.

Premier trainer Chris Waller will focus on the return of his star Winx at Randwick and might have to depend on a replay of the Orr Stakes where he has five-time group 1 winner Boban returning.   

"I always focus on the track where I am and it will be no different on Saturday," he said.


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