Hawkesbury Race Club kicks off a busy Autumn on Thursday, 2 March with heat two of the Provincial Championships.
15 of the best horses trained at provincial tracks across New South Wales or in the Australian Capital Territory will compete in the $150,000 feature which headlines an eight-race program.
The first three finishers in each of the five heats earn a place in the $400,000 final at Royal Randwick on 8 April.
"Trainers have already expressed their intentions to run in our heat to try and qualify for the final,” Hawkesbury Race Club CEO, Greg Rudolph said.
"With the incentive of $50,000 more prizemoney than last year and ACT-trained horses now eligible, we will again attract a very competitive field.
“Our heat is more than a month before the final at Randwick, so there is incentive to qualify early.”
Last year’s Provincial Championships final winner, Danish Twist, has enjoyed great success since the race.
The Kris Lees-trained mare won the Group 3 Dark Jewel Classic, the Listed June Stakes and finished 3rd in the Group 2 Premiere Stakes.
Off the track, there’s plenty of entertainment aimed at boosting the traditional Thursday crowd. Racegoers will enjoy a free gourmet barbecue and have the chance to win tickets to The Championships at Royal Randwick. There will be live music all day, plenty of children’s activities and a $10,000 cash grab competition.
Adult entry to the racecourse is just $10 and children under 18 are free. Gates open at 11am.
Wyong (23 February), Gosford (15 March), Kembla Grange (23 March), and Newcastle (29 March) are also hosting Provincial Championships heats.