By Mark Brassel
Country race clubs have applauded Racing NSW’s decision to significantly raise the ante for a handful of the state’s key feature races.
“These are well-established country feature races; the increase will provide impetus for the clubs to further develop these race meetings and build their recognition not only within racing, but to their local community,” said Racing NSW Chief Executive, Mr Peter V’landys AM.
First cab off the rank is the Port Macquarie Cup run on Friday 6 October, with the race jumping from $100,000 to $150,000. Port Macquarie Race Club’s CEO, Michael Bowman, said: “This is tremendous news that Racing NSW has boosted the [Carlton Draught] Port Macquarie Cup prizemoney to $150,000, a whopping 50% increase on last year.
“On top of the Country Showcase increases brought in last year, Cup Day will now offer a remarkable $390,000 prizemoney for the eight-race program.”
November’s time-honoured Goulburn Cup dates back to 1885 and has also received a $50,000 windfall: "The additional prizemoney is a fantastic boost for country racing. It’s a win-win for all – trainers, owners, patrons and of course the country race clubs,” remarked Goulburn & District Racing Club’s chief executive, Robyn Fife.
One of the most popular meetings in NSW is the Wellington Boot (8 April 2018) and this was another to gain a $50,000 increase. The meeting has its own special ambience with a major attraction, the decadent Oyster, Prawn and Champagne Bar.
“We’re over the moon with Racing NSW’s announcement,” said Wellington Race Club’s Ian Giffin, last year’s recipient of the NSW Country & Provincial Racing Special Achievement Award.
“The Boot attracts a strong field and this increase will further strengthen the race. You only have to look at last year’s result to see Spright ran second and went on to win Stakes races at Royal Randwick and Flemington.”
The Tamworth Cup (29 April 2018) has been elevated from $80,000 to $150,000 with Tamworth Jockey Club’s new GM, Kay Jeffrey, declaring: “We are absolutely thrilled with the announcement from Racing NSW.
“This initiative will help not only in attracting great fields, but will create a real community interest in our Cup day and give us the opportunity to create a major event for our town.”
The fifth feature race to receive a prizemoney injection is the Wagga Town Plate run on Thursday, 3 May 2018. Murrumbidgee Turf Club’s CEO, Scott Sanbrook, observed: “To receive such a significant prizemoney boost is a real feather in the cap for a race which has long been considered one of the country’s premier sprint events.
“The Town Plate has more than doubled in prizemoney since 2012 when the race was worth just $65,000. The club has put a lot of work into building the stature of the race and is now fortunate to be among the feature races earmarked by Racing NSW for the $150,000 status.”
Racing NSW has also expanded the schedule of Country Showcase race meetings from 40 to 45 in 2017/18.