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Country Championships Are Off And Running This Weekend

By Mark Brassel

This weekend marks the arrival of the 2024 Newhaven Park Country Championships with Lismore leading the charge on Saturday.

The Championships then heads south the following day where Albury Racing Club will host the Southern Districts leg with each of these races commanding $150,000 in prizemoney.

Winners and runners-up of each of the seven Championships races (and the two Wild Card winners at Scone and Goulburn) then compete for $1 million in the Final run at Royal Randwick on Saturday 6 April.

A large crowd is certain at this Sunday's SDRA Country Championships at Albury

Albury will have an amazing variety of entertainment on course when they host the Country Championships next Sunday.

“Our Club has put in a great deal of effort for this race meeting both on and off the track so we’re expecting a large crowd,” said ARC’s CEO, Steve Hetherton.

“And being a Racing NSW Country Showcase meeting we’ll have a total of $390,000 in prizemoney on offer.

“The Food & Wine Garden will provide three food trucks catering for a variety of tastes including whisky, wine and chocolate tasting.

“And there’s a photo booth located in the food and wine precinct along with prize giveaways offering different experiences with everyone who attends going into the draw.”

The ‘Sunday Session’ is for 18 to 30-year-olds but not exclusive and there’ll be a couple of bands performing – one after the other – from 1pm to 6pm in the beer garden.

The ‘Champions Deck’ is for 30+ with cocktail food, two drink vouchers and a cash bar with a mixture of different seating.

And there is also a cocktail pop-up bar offering cocktails and different varieties of other drinks.

Champion jockey Craig Williams is another Albury attraction who will be there to partner defending champion Bianco Vilano in the 1400m race.

Already there is a strong list of entries for the SDRA Country Championships with Wagga trainer Tim Donnelly nominating Randwick winner Cliff House (to be ridden by Rory Hutchings) and overseas galloper Guess.

Wagga colleague Gary Colvin will be running Dupride Star who is guaranteed a place in the field at Albury having taken out the Championships Preview there on 1 February.

The Wayne Carroll, Wagga-trained Salute Again (Danny Beasley), a TAB Highway winner at Royal Randwick last June, is also entered while Albury trainer Donna Scott will rely on Clever Art, Snap Book and last start Wagga winner Villasaurus.

Donna Scott won the 2019 SDRA Country Championships with Bennelong Dancer.

Lismore Turf Club will host the race for the first time on Saturday: “This will be the most prestigious race meeting our Club has ever held and we are excited to put on a show and highlight the North Coast of NSW,” said LTC’s secretary/manager, Scott Jones.

The Lismore Northern Rivers Country Championships has attracted 10 nominations from Murwillumbah’s Matthew Dunn headed by Randwick winner Emperor.

Fellow Murwillumbah trainer David McColm will start the talented Fairway Choice who is expected to be one of the favourites following an easy Eagle Farm win last Wednesday, her third victory from just four starts.

Monday: Ballina, Bathurst
Thursday: Goulburn
Friday: Taree, Tamworth
Saturday: Lismore*, Condobolin picnics (non-TAB)
Sunday: Albury*, Dubbo
*Newhaven Park Country Championships

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