For the second year in a row the cards have fallen so that the AFL Grand Final is presented with a Group 1 curtain raiser.
The governing bodies in Victoria, Racing Victoria and the Melbourne Racing Club, confirmed that the Group 1 Underwood Stakes would be moved forward to the Saturday of Grand Final day instead of the originally scheduled Sunday slot.
The switch was confirmed and agreed with broadcasters Channel 7 with the new date for The Underwood set to follow hot on the heels of the Group 1 Moir Stakes at Moonee Valley on Friday night giving punters a pumper 24 hours of Black Type racing.
As a result of the changes the originally scheduled Mornington meeting has been moved from Saturday to Sunday.
The chances are likely to be motivated by the continuing Covid Lockdowns that are currently rife across the country.
With Victoria’s lockdown extended to the 23rd September it has all but drawn a line through any horse racing fans attending the Caulfield Group 1s in the coming month.
Last year the delayed AFL Grand Final was pushed back to late October and was the follow on from a great day of Cox Plate racing.
Now with the Underwood on Saturday as well as the Epsom Handicap in Sydney it is sure to make for a welcome distraction for racing fans.
MRC chief executive Josh Blanksby said; “It puts more eyes on racing leading into it (AFL coverage) especially those later races and good to have a Group One back at Sandown, a few ticks there,” Blanksby said.
“Obviously it’s a more traditional punting day the Saturday, but having the Group One Underwood with Group One Epsom Day is nice synergy for Channel 7 (leading into the Grand Final).”
The MRC’s in-home dining “super-box” experience will be AFL-themed to mark the sporting double-header.
“Disappointing not to be able to have crowds (Underwood) but we’ll push on,” Blanksby said.