The Western Racing Association (WRA) have been given the green light to host a Picnic Jockey’s Challenge in 2021/22.
The challenge, sponsored by Ahrens, and supported by the WRA and their clubs, will see $7500 on offer to the 10 most committed and consistent picnic jockeys that contest at least three WRA picnic meetings.
Eligible meetings will include Macquarie, Tottenham, Bourke, Quambone, Duck Creek, Come By Chance and Cobar, and the winner of the series is set to pocket $1875.
Western Racing Association President Ken Waterford explained that the decision to host the WRA Picnic Jockey’s Challenge was to help attract jockeys to the region and to the sport after what has been a tough period for country racing.
“It is the intention to include all licensed Picnic /Amateur Jockeys (let’s call them Picnic) into the WRA Picnic Jockeys premiership,” Waterford said.
“The WRA understands currently the NSW premiership table shows that only 12 Jockeys are riding during the current season – in the previous season there were 24 Picnic riders.
“This, no doubt, is down due to the decrease in riding opportunities because of the effect Covid has had upon our race clubs with several meetings abandoned over recent times.”
Waterford recognised that jockeys were important to the success of picnic meetings, and he hopes the initiative attracts jockeys, who might not normally attend WRA meetings.
“Western Racing Association Picnic Clubs are under threat of not being able to race due to the limited availability of amateur/picnic Jockey’s and it is felt that this initiative will encourage more Jockeys back to the riding ranks,” Waterford said.
“Further to that, we want to encourage a larger number of Jockeys to compete in the WRA picnic circuit, which often determines the overall success of Picnic race meetings.”
Waterford acknowledged that the past 10 years had been difficult for country clubs, and he said it was the WRA’s focus to get through this difficult period, and he hopes the Picnic Jockey’s Challenge is just one step in the right direction.
“The first goal of the WRA is to assist and support our smaller, uniquely iconic, and most remote clubs across Western NSW,” Waterford said.
“The Western Racing Association covers a large area of NSW, that has been over the past 5-10 years, to hell and back and are now coming out the other side.”
For more information and competition guidelines, readers are encouraged to contact the WRA in writing via at 140 Dubbo Street Warren NSW 2824 or via email at [email protected].