Coffs Harbour to kick off Country Championships

The Coffs Harbour Racing Club kicks off the Country Championships on Saturday. Photo: Leigh Jensen/ The Coffs Coast Advocate.

Coffs Harbour Racing Club CEO, Tim Saladine, is hoping the weather gods play fairly on Saturday, as his club prepares to host the Northern Rivers Racing Association (NRRA) Country Championships qualifier. 

Coffs Harbour had no luck in 2020, trying to host the event twice, before it was moved to Grafton due to poor weather and the condition of the track, so Saladine said the club is excited to have their chance in 2021. 

“It’s very exciting, we missed out last year with the wet weather, we tried to have two cracks at it before it went to Grafton,” Saladine said.

“We are happy to have another crack this year, the race energizes the town and the prizemoney stays up here.”

The Coffs Harbour qualifier is the first of seven regional qualifiers, which leads to the $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships at Royal Randwick on April 3.

“It’s a great opportunity for local trainers, who then have a chance to race in the half million dollar final in Sydney,” Saladine said. 

The $150,000 heat over the 1400m has a capacity field of 14 runners and five reserves, and last year’s NRRA heat winner, Plonka, who also finished third in the 2020 Sydney final, headlines a top notch field of Northern Rivers gallopers. 

Saladine was backing a local runner to get the win though, and hoped to see Raymond Spokes guide Northern Wildrose to victory. 

The Northern Rivers Racing Association heat to be held at Coffs Harbour on Saturday.

“I would love to see it stay locally here in Coffs, so I’ll be on Northern Wildrose,” Saladine said. 

“It’s locally locally owned, locally trained and will be ridden by Coffs local, Raymond Spokes.”

While the racing will no doubt take centre stage, a bumper Coffs Harbour meeting will attract a massive crowd. 

“We are expecting 2000 people on course, functions and cooperate tickets are booked out and we are looking forward to a good day,” Saladine said.

In what could be a social explosion for the town, Saladine explained that their racecourse offered a lot of outdoor seating, allowing for relaxed Covid-19 restrictions. 

“Racecourses just lend themselves with the outside areas, the Covid rules are a little more eased outdoors and you can walk around and have a beer,” Saladine said. 

“We have a lot of people who have booked outdoor picnic tables and I think people are looking forward to relaxing and unwinding.”

The eight-race showcase meeting is sure to have plenty of punter’s following too, with the meeting kicking off at 1pm and running through to 5.25pm, with the NRRA qualifier the last event of the day.