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Time To Celebrate Easter At Lightning Ridge

By Mark Brassel

There’ll be some happy campers right around New South Wales this Easter with nine country race meetings to be staged – and with great weather & crowds attending!

Of course, 2020’s COVID-affected Easter was in stark contrast with four meetings abandoned and the remainder being run in silence without spectators.

Ready to Go Go (Brooke Stower) wins the last Lightning Ridge Cup run (in 2019). Image by Janian McMillan (Racing Photography)

The Easter break follows an amazing bout of torrential rain over most parts of the state on either side and during last weekend.

Kicking off on Easter Saturday will be the huge Lightning Ridge meeting which is part of the Lightning Ridge Easter Festival that spans four days.

The outback town of Lightning Ridge – referred to as the Black Opal capital of the world – starts its Easter with a rodeo on Good Friday night, followed by a ‘Big Dig’ for opals, novelty events, Miners’ Challenge, float parade, market stalls, street races, live music and fireworks spectacular.

“This year will be special at Lightning Ridge after we lost our race meeting last year due to COVID,” said Lightning Ridge Race Club’s secretary, Mel Bradley.

“We’ll have a Fashions on the Field with full bar facilities and merchandise on sale.

“Patrons must pre-pay for membership tickets that allow for contactless entry, just go to our Facebook page for details.”

The famous Back O’Bourke picnic meeting is on Easter Sunday and the Club also missed out on staging their meeting last year.

They had not raced for a decade prior to returning in 2015 and will be making the most of next Sunday’s meeting.

“We have food stalls and a Fashions on the Field with Dubbo singer/songwriter Todd Williams playing after the final race,” said the Club’s secretary, Sarah Barton. “There will be prizes for the most successful jockey and trainer as well as a courtesy bus.

“Thanks go to those who support our club with time and hard work to ensure the grounds and track are in the best condition for the day; without our volunteers, the day would not be possible.”

Back O’Bourke’s feature race is the Splashe Cola Harry Hart Memorial Cup.

Mudgee and Nowra both have seven-race programs on Easter Sunday before Murrumbidgee Turf Club races at Wagga on Easter Monday, with a seven-race card highlighted by a heat of the Wagga Stayer Series over 1800m.

Local trainer Gary Colvin has nominated Mahsinger for the Series heat and the four-year-old is certain to be well-fancied.

Mahsinger bolted in over 2000m at Albury before finishing strongly when runner-up to Defy at Wagga over 2000m. The mare has done the majority of racing at Wagga with two wins and seven placings from 16 starts.

Upcoming NSW country race meetings
Monday: Grafton
Easter Saturday: Moruya, Port Macquarie, Lightning Ridge (non-TAB), Tocumwal (non-TAB)
Easter Sunday: Mudgee, Nowra, Back O’Bourke (non-TAB)
Easter Monday: Wagga, Ballina

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