Grading, timeslot changes for Warragul's big annual feature

The Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup, one of Victoria's oldest harness racing features, has undergone a radical revamp for its 2024 staging.

Warragul Cup
Warragul Cup Picture: HRV

The event won't be run on Easter Sunday and, for the first time in history, will no longer be an open class pacing feature.

First staged in 1955, the Warragul Cup race has been won by well-known horses such as multiple city winners Macaree, Jazzam and Sokyola, while top competitors such as Sassy Sarah and the immortal trotter True Roman have tried and failed.

However, since all Victorian country cup events went to mobile start races just over five years ago, the Warragul Cup has lost its lustre.

Despite being run for a record stake of $35,000, the race has barely attracted more than six runners each staging in recent years.

Warragul Harness Racing Club officials, in consultation with Harness Racing Victoria, have worked to totally revamp the structure of this year's event.

The Cup itself will be run for lower-graded horses, carrying a national handicap rating of up to 55 points.

There is a far greater pool of these horses in the racing system, and it is this kind of horse, and the people that own and train them, that are the repeat customers at Warragul race meetings.

To further promote the event, $6000 lead-up heats will be staged at Cranbourne (April 7 and 16) and Ballarat (April 11) to enable competitors to guarantee their spot in the Warragul Cup on Sunday, April 21.

The Warragul Cup will carry a stake of $17,500 this year, with a consolation race of $10,000 also programmed for horses who fail to make the main field.

The other big change to Warragul Cup day is a shift away from the Easter weekend for the first time since 2006.

A trots meeting has been scheduled at Cranbourne on Good Friday this year, meaning the Warragul Cup has been moved to avoid a clash in the region.