WRA picnic jockey premiership kicks off at Tottenham

Ricky Blewitt and other picnic jockeys will be battling for points when the Western Racing Association Picnic Jockey’s Premiership kicks off at Tottenham next month.
Photo: Racing Photography.

The Western Racing Association (WRA) will conduct a Picnic Jockey’s Premiership in 2023, with a share of $5000 on offer to amateur jockeys who compete in at least three of seven scheduled picnic meetings in the WRA this year. 

The Premiership race will kick off at Tottenham on March 4 before continuing at Bourke on April 9, Marthaguy on May 6, Duck Creek on July 8, Macquarie on July 28, Cobar on August 26, before finishing at Come By Chance on September 23. 

The WRA tried to host a similar series in 2022, but the concept was eventually abandoned due to the unusually wet season and the myriad of transferred and abandoned picnic meetings. 

“There were a few factors that knocked us around last season,” said WRA representative and Premiership Coordinator, Andrew Schier said. 

“We were probably a bit rushed when we kicked off with the idea and we missed out on advertising and didn’t have the go ahead when Tottenham raced, and we had missed Macquarie Picnics because they were called off with Covid. 

“We were essentially behind the eight ball, and then the problems with wet weather arose, which hurt our advertising at regular non-TAB and TAB meetings, and with so many meetings lost, or moved, we struck another snag, and it just didn’t work out.”

Schier and the WRA are confident they will make it work in 2023, with all clubs committed to the cause. 

“We dropped the ball a bit, but the TAB clubs have come back on board to stump up their sponsorship and everyone has reaffirmed their commitment,” Schier said. 

“Now that we have advertising in the hands of the clubs ahead of their race meetings, we’ll kick off with Tottenham, and I think it will run really well this year.” 

The WRA Picnic Jockey’s Premiership has been designed to attract more riders to WRA meetings, which in turn should bring about an increase to field sizes and create a better racing experience for participants and patrons.  

“That’s what we want to do; we know those meetings survive on how many trainers and jockeys can attend,” Schier said. 

“We thought it was one way to get extra jockeys to attend those meeting, and hopefully bump up the number of starters, which creates better racing and more opportunity for industry participants.”

The WRA is still searching for a major sponsor, and while Coonamble, Coonabarabran, Gilgandra, Narromine, and Warren District Jockey Clubs are supporting the series, Schier said he was happy to field any and all offers. 

“We are still looking for a major sponsor, and we’ve left that in limbo, and that’s why figure is capped at $5000 at the moment, but if we can find a sponsor, that would be great, and we’ll look at increasing the pool,” Schier said. 

With the series kicking off at Tottenham next month, jockeys are expected to be out in force, and NSW Country and Picnic Racing will be sharing an updated ladder after each WRA picnic meeting. 

For more on the series, readers can email Andrew Schier at aschier@ahrens.com.au or the WRA at bekbbk@bigpond.com

WRA Picnic Jockey’s Premiership points table

1st = 5 points

2nd = 4 points

3rd = 3 points

4th – 2 points

5th = 1 point