ALBURY Racing Club chief executive John Miller believes hosting the Country Championship heat will further enhance an exciting new era for the club.
Racing NSW on Wednesday confirmed that the Southern District Racing Association (SDRA) qualifier for the Country Championships has been moved to Albury next year.
The Country Championship heat will headline a new look Albury Gold Cup carnival, that will be run over a Sunday and Friday, as opposed to consecutive days.
Miller said Racing NSW approached the club with the proposition and that the club was happy to try to make it work.
“Together with the track upgrade and everything going on, coming off wet tracks, missing out on meetings and all those sorts of things going on, it’s a real positive light for next year,” Miller said.
“The club has always looked at different changes, we’re not set in stone with our Cup carnival.
“The Thursday, for us, is good racing, better than a normal Thursday TAB meeting but it’s not as strong as the first day at Wagga or Warrnambool or anything like that.
“We’re rapt to be given the opportunity by Racing NSW to host it and we certainly aim to give it a red hot crack and make it a real winner.”
The $150,000 SDRA Championship heat will be held on Sunday, March 19, ahead of Cup day on March 24.
The club will decide at their October board meeting what day the City Handicap will be run, along with other feature races.
Murrumbidgee Turf Club chief executive Scott Sanbrook said they would have loved to host the meeting again but always understood it could be shared around.
“There was always an understanding that the Championships could be alternated between the bigger tracks,” Sanbrook said.
“We would have loved to have it again next year, especially with the prizemoney boost.
“I also think it’s a great idea to go to a Sunday in March and that’s something our club had been pushing for as well.”
Albury trainer Brett Cavanough has won the only two runnings of the SDRA County Championship heat, courtesy of Loved Up and Steakandbearnaise.
Cavanough is happy to have it on his home track.
“I don’t care where it’s run as long as I get a crack at it,” Cavanough said.
“Everyone plays a lot better at home though and I’m a lot happier with it being at Albury, rather than Wagga given my strike rate over there.”