The future of the Riverina’s richest and most prestigious harness race is clouded with uncertainty.
A change of date has failed to help the MIA Breeders Plate attract strong numbers this season.
For the first time the two-year-old classic has been moved away from the traditional Boxing Day and New Year’s Day dates.
However the shift has not been well received by trainers.
Only 14 nominations have been received for the $40,000 feature race.
It has forced Leeton Harness Racing Club to extend the nominations for another two weeks.
Secretary Joanne Punch is now taking nominations until December 14 in the hope of sparking interest in the race.
“It is disappointing every year when it gets lower and lower and you just have to hope you get a few more,” Punch said.
“It takes 10 days for our mail to come anyway so we thought we might as well extend for a couple of weeks to see how we go.
The 14 nominations is a massive drop in numbers.
There were 38 nominations received two years ago while there was 28 in the running this time last year.
With numbers so low there is an option of running a prelude instead of having heats.
Punch said the club would need to have a meeting before committing to any change.
The date was changed to align with Harness Racing NSW’s new policy regarding racing two-year-olds.
There are now no races until January 1 and Leeton president Gary Punch believes the club’s situation is part of a state wide concern.
“There is not around and that is the disappointing,” he said.
“I’m not even sure how many have qualified around the state.”
Leeton will still race on December 26 and January 1.
There have increased the prizemoney for both the Golden Apple Super Store and Bells Produce events.
Both finals will now be worth $14,000.
The Leeton Pacers Cup will also be run on New Year’s Day, alongside the Ladies Invitational race which has also received a funding boost.
The Breeders Plate heats are set down for January 12 with the $40,000 final to be run on January 26.
The Australia Day date means Junee’s Carnival of Cups meeting will be run on January 27.
Entries for the plate are to be sent to the Leeton club.