Northern Rivers race clubs have come together to develop a spring stayers series aimed at bringing through another generation of horses over the extended journey.
The three-month series gets under way on Ballina Cup Day, and clubs up and down the North Coast have embraced the concept.
Staying strong on the Northern Rivers: Supply And Demand and Josh Parr take out the 2017 Grafton Cup.
“The idea is the brainchild was Matt Bertram at Ballina, who has for a few years promoted a 2650m race on the Monday prior to the Melbourne Cup,” Grafton chef executive Michael Beattie said. “To have a race like that you need lead-ups, and we sat down with the other clubs up here and made a series.
“We think it will become a feature of the spring up here, and we would like to develop it and get some support in terms of prizemoney next year for the feature, so owners and trainers can target them if it proves a winner.
“In reality, it is a step back in time when the set-weight staying races were the norm on every program in country NSW. There were many high-class country stayers developed as a result, and we are trying to give that pathway again.
"We are aiming at those lower-grade horses to give them the grounding, and hopefully we might see a couple of them in the Grafton Cup next year.”
The series begins with 1900m benchmark 66 at Ballina on its Cup day, September 6, and there is race every couple of weeks up until December 2, including a 3120m marathon at Grafton on November 19.
The full list of races is: Ballina September 6 BM 66 1900m, Grafton September 13 BM 58 2200m, Bowraville September 22 C1&M 2200m, Grafton September 25 BM 58 2350m, Ballina September 30 Cl 2 1900m, Grafton October 12 BM 66 2350m, Murwillumbah October 16 BM 58 2020m, Lismore October 22 Cl 3 2100m, Grafton October 30 BM 66 2350m, Ballina November 5 BM 66 2650m, Coffs Harbour November 6 Cl 2 1900m, Grafton November 7 C1&M 2200m, Murwillumbah November 16 C1&M 2020m, Grafton November 19 BM 66 3120m, Bowraville December 1 BM 45 2200m. Grafton December 2 BM 66 2200m.
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