The Sydney summer carnival, with the benefit of Royal Randwick, a ''theatre of the horse'', will be revamped next year. Even free admission and the Villiers as a drawcard on Saturday at Warwick Farm drew only 3339, emphasising that the venue, dying of neglect, is no longer racegoer-friendly. Saturday's figures will hardly prompt the Australian Turf Club to upgrade the facility. However, being back at Randwick, ATC chief Darren Pearce is confident the Villiers will return to its former glory. ''Perhaps it will be run a little earlier so not to clash with Christmas shopping,'' he said. Prizemoney, too, deserves a pump. While newcomers were noted, diehards and contributors to ''Wits' Row'', Bill and Geoff, were notable absentees - as were the Masons. Roy Horton, the wrong side of 90, cool and dapper as usual, made the trek, while Bruce arrived in a shirt more suitable for a beach carnival. The ATC has sent out a questionnaire to members asking if menu changes to the Rosehill dining room would ''improve the race-day experience'', prompting a dissident to bleat: ''It just shows they are more interested in food and drink than improving the punting experience.''
The battle of dehydration has been expensive to punters over the past week. Apprentice Alex Forbes was fined $1000 for being more than a kilo overweight on Star Of Jeune, which dead-heated at Moonee Valley on Thursday. At Kembla Grange on Saturday, Dean Greville was suspended until January 3 when 1.2kg over on Regallic, defeated by a short head in the benchmark 60. Greville had a drink after weighing out. No doubt the misdemeanours were result-changing but Glyn Schofield was given permission to declare a half kilo over on All Legal, successful in the Villiers by a nose. Had the result been a few centimetres different, All Legal supporters would have had whining rights but then how much is a fit senior jockey, without the pangs of thirst, worth?
Queenslanders Desleigh Forster and Gillian Heinrich are flying. Forster had two winners in 10 minutes on Saturday - Adebisi (Warwick Farm) and I'm Cool (Doomben). taking her winning tally of five races at her past six attempts. In the metro area, she has scored at 11 out of her past 25. Heinrich has taken two legs of the Brisbane summer treble, including Audacious Spirit scoring at Doomben on Saturday.
NASH V HUGH
Despite being injured, Nash Rawiller is $2.80 equal favourite with Hugh Bowman on TAB Sportsbet for the Sydney jockeys' premiership.Bowman is riding keen and is one of the few who will take a grip on a race, i.e., dictate and not be dictated to, as he did on Adebisi in the Razor Sharp at Warwick Farm.
With the scratching of Blue Palace, the most expensive yearling, in the Inglis Nursery, the total outlay for the 13 two-year-olds starters - $273,500 - just exceeded the $250,000 prizemoney for the event, including the $45,000 reserve that wasn't reached for Sunshine Royale. The sprint was restricted to those knocked down by the auction house and emphasised the eye of New Zealander Bjorn Baker, who bought the quinella of Twilight Royale ($45,000) and the unlucky Fuerza ($32,000) on spec. Chief steward Ray Murrihy wasn't satisfied with the Victorian rule regarding barrier behaviour after the wayward antics of $100,000 buy Blue Palace, ''reported'' for bad habits in the gates at her Caulfield debut. Blue Palace only had jump-outs to get clearance down south, but Murrihy said the filly would need two barrier trials before being allowed to race here again.
HORSE TO FOLLOW
Hypurr, from Hong Kong, was beaten less than two lengths in the Razor Sharp at Warwick Farm after being three wide without cover. Being owned by Carmel Size, the daughter of Neville Begg, is a positive considering the success the Begg family had with All Silent, a failure in Honkers.
Driefontein, the $1.10 favourite, was beaten in the Wyong Magic Millions for three-year-olds on Thursday and jockey Tom Berry was the fall guy. Word is a barrier mishap necessitated stitches in Driefontein's head but Mark van Gestel, the acting chief steward, reckoned the graze was hardly discernible.