Country Championships locations named, wild card qualifier added

Nick Heywood guided the Gary Colvin-trained Another One to a second consecutive SDRA Country Championship qualifier victory at Wagga in 2022. Photo: Bradley Photos.

Racing NSW on Friday announced the 2023 dates and venues for the Country Championships Series.

In 2023, for the first time the series will feature two Wild Card races of $150,000 prizemoney to be run in the north and south of the State. 

With the creation of a second Wild Card race and added prizemoney, the Country Championships series will be worth $1.85 million in 2023. 

The qualifying series in 2023 will again include six Sundays and two Saturdays before culminating in a $500,000 Final at Royal Randwick racecourse on Saturday 1 April 2023 on Day 1 of The Star Championships. 

The full list of Country Championships dates is as follows.

The dates and locations for the 2023 Country Championships.

The Country Championships commences on Sunday 12 February 2023 with Tuncurry-Forster staging the Mid North Coast qualifier for the first time. 

The series then turns to a double header on the weekend of 18 and 19 February 2023 at Coffs Harbour (Northern Rivers) and Moruya (South-East). Moruya has been selected for the first time but had previously staged the 2020 regional qualifier as a wet weather transfer. 

The second double header of the series will also see back-to-back meetings at Albury (Southern Districts) and Mudgee (Central Districts) on 25 and 26 February 2023.

The Hunter and North-West qualifier is scheduled a week later at Tamworth on Sunday 5 March 2023, with the regional qualifiers again finishing in the Western region at Coonamble, on Sunday 12 March 2023. 

Northern and Southern Wild Card races will be staged, with the winners qualifying for the Final. The Southern Wild Card, encompassing the Southern Districts, South-East and Central Districts is to be held at Goulburn on Friday 17 March 2023. 

The Northern Wild Card, covering the Hunter & North West, Western region and both north coast regions, is scheduled for Scone racecourse on Sunday 19 March 2023. 

Updated wild card race conditions

Conditions for the Wild Card races have also been amended for 2023 to require that horses afforded a start in their regional qualifier must contest that race unless scratched with a veterinary certificate or scratched for reasons otherwise approved by Racing NSW.