THE 2016 Ascot Racing Carnival will be transformed by the introduction of the $3 million TABtouch Masters, a world-first event set to become a major feature of Australia’s racing and events calendar and deliver a significant economic boost for Western Australia.
Kicking off on Saturday, November 19, The TABtouch Masters will make Ascot the first racecourse anywhere in the world to stage a Group One race worth at least $1 million on three consecutive Saturdays.
The event is expected to see more than $3 million in on-course bets placed across the three days, with an anticipated 25,000 racegoers coming through the gates at Ascot Racecourse.
Almost 10 per cent of those are expected to come from interstate, delivering a key boost to Perth hotels, restaurants and retail outlets.
Perth Racing Chairman Neil Pinner said the TABtouch Masters would deliver not only three super Saturdays of high-quality racing, but also a new highlight for WA’s social and entertainment calendar.
“We are committed to bringing a world-class event to Perth that will re-establish the Ascot Racing Carnival as a major national and international racing drawcard,” Mr Pinner said.
He said the TABtouch Masters would appeal to racing purists by showcasing some of Australia’s best thoroughbreds, and to a wider audience who can experience the many attractions that make horse racing one of country’s most popular sports.
“That will include not only the races themselves, but headline musical acts, fashion on the field events and the best in WA produce and hospitality,” he said.
Mr Pinner said the TABtouch Masters would have a significant impact for the WA economy, with the influx in interstate visitors a boost for hotels, restaurants, transport and retail, with all the required finery of new dresses, fascinators and suits that comes with a day at the races.
He said the TABtouch Masters also expected to attract Australia’s best horses to Perth to compete in the three-day program, which will feature the James Boag’s Premium-Railway Stakes, Crown Perth-Winterbottom Stakes and Perth Racing- Kingston Town Classic.
The Railway Stakes is Perth’s oldest Group One race, the Winterbottom Stakes is Australia’s last Group One sprint of the year, and the Kingston Town Classic is the richest Group One 1800m race in the Southern Hemisphere.
Mr Pinner said Perth Racing was making a significant contribution to the event by helping to get the best horses to Perth.
“The class of the fields and the quality of the horses is paramount if the TABtouch Masters is to be recognised as a premier global racing event,” he said.
“Perth’s racing followers have been fortunate over the years in seeing some of the greats of Australian turf, including Better Loosen Up, Buffering, Miss Andretti, Northerly, Ortensia, Takeover Target, Vo Rogue and course, Kingston Town at Ascot.
“We recognise that the cost of bringing interstate horses to Perth is considerable, and we will be putting in place an incentive scheme to remove that barrier and ensure we continue to see the best battle it out in Perth.”
Racing and Wagering Western Australia chief executive officer Richard Burt said TABtouch was proud to sponsor The Masters and support the solid promotion of Western Australia’s thoroughbred racing premium product.
The TABtouch Masters program will also showcase the best of WA regional racing, with the launch of the inaugural Regional Championships.
The Regional Championship races will be run at Geraldton (12 November), Mt Barker (13 November), Northam (17 November) and Bunbury (20 November), before the final at Ascot Racecourse on Winterbottom Stakes Day.
All Group One races will be broadcast live on the Seven Network in WA, in a first for the Club.
Racing and Gaming Minister Colin Holt said the introduction of the Masters concept for the WA racing industry was a bold step.
He said the industry was all about passion and commitment.
“And that’s exactly where we are getting to with the Masters,” he said.
“Perth Racing has gone out on a limb to drive the passion in the industry to ensure that people come back and enjoy what a race club has to offer.”
He said the whole industry would benefit from the initiative and he hoped WA horses would be competitive with horses brought over from interstate and overseas to compete in the three races.