VICTORIA Racing Club has rejected a proposal from the Melbourne Racing Club for the Caulfield Cup to be a penalty free race in 2014. VRC chairman Michael Burn said a “consistency” as well as the “Might And Power” factor weighed heavily on the Board’s decision.

Burn said the Board saw the need to retain consistency within the Melbourne Cup race conditions as paramount and therefore “fair” to all clubs that conduct staying races, whether they be handicaps, set weight and penalty or weight-for-age races in the spring, reports Racing Network.

He said it would be “inequitable” for horses to receive re-handicaps for various race and for another race - the Caulfield Cup - to be untouched.

“If you take the Caulfield Cup out of that equation we think that is going back in the direction of creating more inconsistency,” Burn said.

“We are troubled by that concept. We were very conscious of that.”

Burn said the phenomenal win by Might And Power in the 1997 Caulfield Cup was another factor considered by the VRC Board.

“Imagine if that were to happen and the horse could not be rehandicapped?,” Burn said.

“I don’t think that would be a positive for the Emirates Melbourne Cup. All of a sudden you have a horse that is pitch forked in.

“He was given a penalty, a heavy penalty and he was still good enough to win.

“It illustrates well why having the opportunity for the handicapper to re-think things.”

Might And Power was rehandicpped 3.5kg, the biggest penalty in the modern era, after his record-breaking seven and a half length win in the Caulfield Cup.

The Jack Denham-trained, Jimmy Cassidy-ridden Might And Power prevailed to win by the narrowest of margins in one of the most dramatic Melbourne Cup finishes.

Burn said that the Board’s view was that in order to meet the MRC’s request all black type staying races would have to become penalty free and that could result is reducing the opportunities for horses to gain entry to the Melbourne Cup.

He said the Caulfield Cup was on a good trend according to many indicators, including the international rating of the race.

“The race appears to be getting stronger not weaker and that’s great and you look at the ratings of the race and that seems to be borne out,” Burn said.

“I know there were comments made last year that horses may have avoided the race, I’m not sure whether that is right or not, but if you go back to 2012 and that renewal of the race was considered to be the strongest renewal of the race.

“It’s not clear that there is a problem. The Caulfield Cup appears to be in good shape  when you look at things that tell you how a race is travelling.”

Burn commended the MRC’s decision to increase prize money for this year’s Caulfield Cup to $3 million.

“It tends to be prize money more than just about anything else that tends to influence programming decisions. That has been our experience,” Burn said. 

While Racing Victoria runs the day to day running of racing in Victoria, the MRC required the consent of the VRC for any change to its Cup that may have had an impact on the Melbourne Cup

MRC undertook a study of the Caulfield Cup, its strength and weaknesses, over a four to five month period. The club invested time in seeking the views of Gai Waterhouse, Lloyd Williams as well as Racing Victoria chief handicapper Greg Carpenter and others.

One of the key points to emerge was that the Caulfield Cup was not considered the ‘Grand Final’ and some owners/trainers were happy to miss the race for fear they may attract a penalty for the Melbourne Cup.

The MRC believed there was a clear trend of horses missing the Caulfield Cup because of the penalty fear factor.

And, those horses were running in the Cox Plate as their lead into the Melbourne Cup.

It’s understood that the MRC provided a comprehensive submission for consideration to be given for the Caulfield Cup to be a penalty free race.