There will be three MIA Breeders Plate heats for the first time in four years after 22 horses accepted for Leeton’s feature race.
Three heats haven’t been run for the two-year-old classic since Knightsmile’s victory for Norm and Malcolm Diebert in 2012.
After a prizemoney increase this season it will be the richest running of the prestigious feature, which spans back to Joe Raid’s victory in 1955.
However of the 22 entries only seven will have raced before Saturday’s heats.
Ten of the horses are trained in the Riverina with the seven of the 12 visitors coming from Victoria.
Redbank Blaze headlines the field after his debut victory at Bathurst.
The Paul Kahlefeldt runner is one of two horses in the field to taste success.
He has come up with the tricky barrier seven in the first of the heats.
The Defiant is the only other hopeful to have won a race after winning on debut at Maryborough.
The Michael Azzopardi-trained gelding has since finished fourth at Kilmore.
A third winner, Im With Lexy, did not accept after winning at Bathurst on Friday.
Great Western trainer Peter Manning, who has won the race five times in the last two decades, will be represented by Easter Jolt.
The son of Village Jolt is a full-brother to group two placegetter Christmas Jolt.
Leeton Harness Racing Club secretary Joanne Punch was pleased with the number of final acceptors.
“It’s very good and we are happy with that,” Punch said.
“It was 25 a few days ago but a few had injuries and pulled out.
“But it is good to have three heats.”
In order to attract more horses to the race the club increased prizemoney to $40,000 and altered the nomination process.
This year a one-off nomination was required with 38 two-year-olds initially nominated on November 1.
Punch thought the prizemoney increased helped attract more horses and was pleased to see the hard work of the club paying off.
The prizemoney increase has also seen the race move from being a Listed event to a group three.
It’s a busy period for the club, who also race on Saturday before the final on January 1.
Punch said all was in readiness for the event.
Three heats of the Bells Produce will also be run on Saturday night.
The first race is at 6.13pm with the first of the Breeders Plate heats at 7.12pm.
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