By Geoff Newling
Scone Race Club’s track will be in outstanding order when it stages its Country Championships Preview meeting this Friday.
The $20,000 Country Championships Preview Class 4 Handicap (1300m) is the feature event on the eight-race TAB program where nominations close at 11am on Monday and trainers and owners alike will find a perfect racing surface, advised new SRC chief executive officer, Heath Courtney.
“The track is in amazing condition,” Heath Courtney said. "With the hot weather and the constant watering we’ve promoted the growth and coverage of the track. It looks amazing, every horse will have its chance.”
The meeting is the first to be held by the SRC since the sad passing of club stalwart and president Noel Leckie. His funeral drew a huge crowd to Scone to honour his life, memory and massive input into Scone Race Club.
“Noel was instrumental in getting me here,” Heath Courtney said. “I only knew him a short time but he was an outstanding man and administrator. We lost a lot of skill and knowledge with his passing. The club and I will have to dig deep to match that. But we will be having a special tribute to him on the Friday of the Scone Cup Carnival and the Country Cup will be named in his honour.”
He is hoping Friday’s 1300m Country Championship Preview will “attract a good field”: "It is going to be interesting and exciting to see what noms we do get Monday,” he said.
The running rail has been moved out 5m on the spacious circuit to ensure the Sunday, March 5 Country Championships Qualifier will be raced on the best possible surface.
The Country Championships start in Grafton on Monday with the running of the $150,000 Northern Rivers heat, then follows $150,000 heats at Goulburn (February 18), Dubbo (February 19), Taree (February 26), Scone (March 5), Wellington (March 12) and Albury (March 19).
Muswellbrook Race Club then stage its Wild Card on March 26 before the Saturday, April 1 $400,000 Country Championships Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick.