Clarence River Jockey Club will open the curtain on the 2017 Country Championships by staging the first qualifying event on Sunday 12 February.
Grafton will stage this year’s initial $150,000 qualifier with first and second heading to Royal Randwick on Saturday April 1 to compete in the $400,000 Country Championships Final (1400m).
The Grafton meeting is one of Racing NSW’s highly-successful Showcase programs with minimum prizemoney for each race at $30,000.
“The Country Championships is only into its third year and has provided a tremendous boost to country racing,” said Racing NSW’s Chief Executive, Mr Peter V’landys AM. “And we expect even greater interest this year with each of the seven qualifying races carrying an additional $50,000 prizemoney.”
Grafton’s ‘The Championships Blues, Brews and BBQ’s Raceday’ offers hot blues artists, International craft beer, gourmet BBQ food and free kids entertainment. Blues artists performing live on the lawn include Phil Emmanuel, Hussy Hicks, Minnie Marks and Slim Jim & the Boney Hardmen.
“The interesting thing about the third year of the Country Championships is the increasing number of trainers setting horses for the event many months beforehand,” said CRJC’s CEO, Michael Beattie.
“As a consequence, the qualifying races have created even more interest and the concept just seems to get bigger each year. It’s a real winner for racing in this State.”
Grafton’s raceday will be followed by Goulburn (18 February), Dubbo (19 February), Taree (26 February), Scone (5 March), Wellington (12 March), Albury (19 March) and Muswellbrook’s ‘Wild Card’ (26 March).
*Grafton’s Country Championships Qualifier can be contested by horses based in the Northern Rivers Racing Association’s jurisdiction that are Class 5 and below and have not started in more than 20 races prior to regional qualifying race
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