Nature Strip’s Rod Lyons says $6 million bonus series a “no-brainer” as Racing NSW announces $30 million prizemoney increase


“He’s in the twilight of his career and the horse comes first,” Lyons said.

“The $6 million is a big incentive for wanting to stay there. He’s been a fantastic horse and I wish he was two years younger. I think it’s a great incentive and a great reason to campaign in Sydney. What do they say? Money speaks all languages.

James McDonald punches the air as Nature Strip wins The King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.Credit:Getty

“I would think we’d have to bounce this off Chris, because ultimately Chris makes the decision what’s best for the horse. But of course [it changes our thinking]. We would be nuts if we were lucky enough to win The Shorts and run a blinder in The Everest … it’s a no-brainer. You need to stay in Sydney. Those races are in our backyard and he’s trained in Sydney.”

It would also be the first time Nature Strip has been tested at 1300 metres in his career, and only second time he’s raced at Rosehill in his career. His only other start on his home track was a nail-biting win in the 2019 The Galaxy.

Asked if the bonus could keep all of Australia’s best sprinters in Sydney, Racing NSW boss V’landys said: “That’s the aim.

“The Everest has made those horses well known throughout Australia and it’s only fair they stay in NSW because we’re the ones that have made them household names, and we’re the ones that have highlighted the spring racing in Australia.”

‘The Everest has made those horses well known throughout Australia and it’s only fair they stay in NSW.’

Peter V’landys

The sprinting bonus scheme was unveiled during an announcement for $30 million in prizemoney increases across NSW racing, from picnic meetings to marquee carnival events.

The Queen Elizabeth Stakes (up to $5 million from $4 million) received a boost alongside the Doncaster Mile (up to $4 million from $3 million) and TJ Smith Stakes (up to $3 million from $2.5 million).

V’landys said continual prizemoney increases remained sustainable despite increasing pressure on corporate bookmakers after the NSW government raised the point of consumption tax to 15 per cent.

“These are sustainable and fully funded and that’s thanks to the NSW state government for the negotiations we did on the point of consumption tax,” V’landys said. “That’s assisting the funding. We’ve also had record turnover, but we expect that to come down a little bit after COVID. At this stage, they’re fully funded and there’s probably a surplus left over.”

Minimum prizemoney will be lifted across all levels of country racing from picnic ($5000 to $7000 per race), non-TAB ($10,000 to $12,000), SKY 2 ($15,000 to $16,000) right through to TAB ($25,000 to $27,000) meetings.

At least two races at every country TAB meeting will be restricted to bush-trained horses only and be worth $30,000. Highway and Midway races will also be worth $120,000 at Saturday city meetings.

There were massive increases for The Kosciuszko ($1.3 million to $2 million) and Sydney Stakes ($500,000 to $2 million) on The Everest day. All prizemoney changes begin on September 1.

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“It will add a complete new dimension of interest and excitement for our Everest spring carnival, which I believe in 2022 will be the best and most exciting carnival contested here in Australia,” Racing NSW chairman Russell Balding said.

Racing Minister Kevin Anderson hailed the unveiling of a $125 million project infrastructure fund which will be delivered by Racing NSW over the next two years, while the strappers’ bonus will be lifted from 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent of prizemoney and the equine welfare fund has been increased to 1.5 per cent.

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