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RV weighs weight changes

A potential early season oddity in this month's Group 1 Memsie Stakes has highlighted the need for a series of adjustments to be made to the COVID-19-enforced weight scale in Victoria.

Currently, under COVID-19 protocols, the minimum weight remains at 56 kilograms in Victoria with a minimum topweight of 62kg but Racing Victoria has already begun to reshape the weight scale ahead of further decisions regarding the upcoming G1 handicaps at Caulfield.

The weights for Saturday's G3 Aurie's Star Handicap at Flemington mark the first stage of a revision of the scale, with the minimum dropping a kilogram to 55kg.

RV executive general manager of racing, Greg Carpenter, explained on Wednesday that the industry had turned its mind to the weight scale for the spring so as to avert potential problems not only in feature handicaps but also in some of the early spring weight-for-age racing.

"There is a need to be thinking about the scale for the Group 1 handicaps and we will continue to consult with jockeys and trainers as we go into spring," Carpenter said.

"For weight-for-age racing, the only factor there is the three-year-olds and we don't often get three-year-olds in the early weight-for-age races.

"However, quite interestingly I just got a message from a member of the team that a jockey manager wanted to know what a three-year-old would get in the (weight-for-age) Memsie, which is 50.5 (kg).

"Now, you're not going to move it to 56 and everything else to 63.5 just to cater for one horse.

"If we get a three-year-old in the Cox Plate and we are still in this situation - if the older horses have 59 and the three-year-olds go into the race with 49.5, we are not going to make the 59s go to 65.5kgs.

"You will note this week the Aurie's Star Handicap is a Group 3 race and is the only Group handicap race in August and it actually is a 55 kilogram minimum.

"We did this after consulting with the VJA (Victorian Jockeys' Association) and ATA (Australian Trainers' Association)."

The weights were lifted from a minimum of 54kg to 56kg to give some relief to riders in the Green Team that were initially unable to ride trackwork and exercise as they liked.

Carpenter said decisions had to be made soon as the first G1 handicap - the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes - is just a little more than five weeks away.

"We will continue to consult later into August and into September, particularly the first Group 1 handicap for the spring the Rupert Clarke Stakes," he said.

"So, at the moment, we continue with the 62 to 56 but as we know things are changing very rapidly.

"Our original intention was to move back to a 54kg from the first of August and obviously that didn't happen, but this is a transition as we get into spring."

Aurie's Star Handicap down Flemington's straight sprint course on Saturday, picture ThoroughbredNEWS

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