Wagga Harness Racing Club (WHRC) is confident the future is bright for the sport in the region after the announcement of a new group one carnival to be held in the city.
Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) last week announced a new group one carnival that will be held annually in Wagga, kicking off in April next year.
The four $100,000 group one features will be run over a week in an Inter Dominion style set up, for four and five-year-old pacers.
The announcement came just a month before harness racing will enter an exciting new era at Wagga’s new $12 million track, Riverina Paceway.
WHRC chief executive Graeme White said the new carnival will be huge addition to the region’s sporting landscape.
“It’s massive for the country to have four group one races each worth $100,000, plus $20,000 consolations on the one day,” White said.
“There will be three meetings in the space of nine days in April of next year which will help entice people to come and stay in Wagga.”
White said the new carnival was yet another benefit of the decision to build a new state of the art facility at Cartwrights Hill.
“The new complex has created a lot of interest with additional sponsors and members keen to be part of this exciting new era,” he said.
“It’s only a couple of weeks until the first set of trials then there will be two race meetings and another set of night trials to test the track and facilities before the opening on Sunday, March 10.
“We have made sure the local participants are provided for with three $15,000 finals plus a Best of The Bush final for horses trained outside of the region.”
Leading Riverina trainer-driver Bruce Harpley believes the new carnival adds to an exciting time for harness racing.
“It’s great for the whole industry,” Harpley said.
“In my lifetime, and I’ve been involved all my life, this is the most exciting time for harness racing in the Riverina.
“A lot of good things have happened in the Riverina but to have a facility like this at Wagga, and now getting group one races coming to the Riverina, a lot of trainers would have dreamt of this and thought it would never happen but it is. It’s almost here.
“It’s really exciting for our sport and hopefully it attracts new people to the game."
The inaugural carnival will see heats on a Friday and Tuesday before four $100,000 finals on Easter Sunday, April 12 next year.