Fifteen pacers remain in the running for the new-look $40,000 MIA Breeders Plate at Leeton.
The fields for the opening night of the Breeders Plate carnival will be released on Tuesday and Leeton Harness Racing Club (LHRC) officials are confident of conducting two heats of the two-year-old classic.
This year’s Plate has been moved to a new timeslot in January due to changes to the rules of racing two-year-olds in Australia.
The heats will be conducted on Friday night, January 12, with the final to be run a fortnight later on Australia Day.
LHRC secretary Joanne Punch believes it took owners and trainers some time to readjust to the new dates.
“For a start we were a bit worried, I think we had too many changes with it,” Punch said.
“People weren’t real sure when they had to be in by so we extended it.
“I think everyone was negative about it to start with but once it gets going it will be a positive thing.
“The two-week break between the heat and final might be really good. It gives the horses time to recuperate, and it’s not as quick of a turnaround for those who travel.”
Col Thomas and Wal Kefford are the only Leeton trainers with two-year-olds in this year’s Plate.
Wal Kefford’s is owned by Steve Pike.
Riverina trainers make up the majority of the 15 still in the race with David Druitt (two), Peter Schiller (two), Steve Maguire, Paul Kahlefeldt and Jim Fury all represented.
Leeton’s George Szwec has one nominated that is with David Jack, West Wyalong’s Ray Moore has two in that will race for Bathurst trainer Nathan Hurst.
Newcastle’s Peter Kohisdorf hopes to bring two, while Greg Cattell also has one in the Plate.
The Breeders Plate will continue a busy period for harness racing at Leeton.
The club still conducted it’s annual Boxing-New Year’s night carnival and were happy with the results despite the Breeders Plate not featuring this time.
“The Boxing night gate was up,” Punch said.
“The second night was definitely down but there was still a good crowd there and everything.
“I think the fact there wasn’t a public holiday the next day was the big thing on New Year’s night, rather than one race not being there. The racing was still very good.”
LHRC has planned a fireworks display for after the last race on Australia Day.