Group one racing is coming to Wagga.
The all-new Riverina Paceway at Cartwrights Hill will be the home of an exciting new harness racing carnival, featuring four group one races.
Harness Racing NSW made the announcement on Wednesday with the first carnival to be held in April next year.
Four $100,000 finals will be held, for four-year-old mares, four-year-old colts and geldings, five-year-old mares and five-year-old colts and geldings.
They will be the first group one races ever to be held in the Riverina, in any code, and Harness Racing NSW chairman Rod Smith said it was an exciting time for the sport in Wagga.
“It’s a great facility and we’ve got to have a pinnacle event,” Smith said.
“What we’re going to do is run a carnival here over a week’s period, a flow on from what we do at the Gold Crown at Bathurst...so people will be able to come to Wagga, have a week’s holiday, bring their horses with them and have a bit of fun. That’s what it’s all about.
“Effectively in the regional area, we’ll have eight group one races to support the regions because that’s where our strength is. The Riverina is one of the biggest breeding areas, they’ve had great studs here like Yirribee and the likes where we’ve got stallions standing so we have to support the area and the way to support the area is to put great facilities and good tracks.
“The whole idea of this is to give confidence to the people that breed and buy at our yearling sales.”
The group one races are new events and will be for horses that are Breeders Challenge eligible or are paid up for the Bathurst Gold Crown series.
If there is still spots available, Australian-bred horses that are trained in NSW will be given preference.
The series will see two rounds of heats on the Friday, then Tuesday with the final to be held on Sunday, April 12, 2020, that will coincide with Easter.
Consolation finals, worth $20,000 each, will also be conducted.
Racing minister Paul Toole said the new series at the $12 million complex will take the sport from strength to strength in the Riverina.
“This is an exciting time for the industry and one that we’re very proud of,” Toole said.