Australia’s oldest active jockey Danny Miller is against a bold move to introduce Good Friday racing at Ascot next month and says he will boycott the meeting.
Perth Racing has broken with tradition and will become Australia’s first city race club to conduct a thoroughbred meeting on Good Friday.
Racing and Wagering WA announced yesterday the $200,000 WA Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) would be run at Ascot on Friday, April 14.
“They’re not respecting the meaning of Easter,” Miller, 69, said.
“It seems they are only interested in money. I go to church on Good Friday.
“There’s enough racing dates already. I think it’s ridiculous to also race on Good Friday. This is totally wrong.”
The Easter racing initiative at Ascot leaves Christmas Day as Australia’s only racing-free day.
“AFL, rugby league and soccer will this year be played in Australia on Good Friday,” RWWA racing commercial and planning manager David Hunter said.
“The staging of these sports and findings from RWWA’s community consultations clearly indicate attitudes to Good Friday have changed.
“We decided to go ahead with proposals to introduce the new Easter meeting at Ascot after learning the Western Bulldogs would clash with North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Good Friday.
“Our plan for Good Friday racing has received strong support from owners, jockeys and trainers’ associations.
“The meeting is due to start at about 1.30pm and entry will be free.
“Not all TAB agencies will open, but we anticipate substantial betting on what will be Australia’s only thoroughbred races that day. Sky will telecast the Ascot meeting ”
Hunter said he expected other Australian race clubs to follow Ascot’s lead and hold Good Friday racing next year.
Perth Racing managing director John Yovich said Good Friday racing in England had been successful since its launch three years ago.
“Families have flocked to Lingfield Park, near London’s outskirts, and provided big crowds on Good Fridays,” Yovich said.
The Sires’ Produce Stakes, restricted to two-year-olds, and the $100,000 Old Comrade Stakes (1600m) were due to be run on Easter Saturday, April 15.
“The Old Comrade Stakes will remain on Saturday, while the Sires’ Produce is shifted to Friday,” Hunter said. “Four midweek grade events and four Saturday-class races will be run at each of Ascot’s two Easter meetings.”
RWWA senior handicapper Ian Malpass said the Bunbury races scheduled for Thursday, April 13, would be run on the Wednesday.
Gloucester Park chief executive Michael Radley said his club would consider a move to race on Good Friday next year.