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14 March, 2022

Coonamble ready to host country champs

Coonamble's reputation for hospitality and the sensational racing promised by the Newhaven Country Racing Championships this weekend, including a record prize purse of $430,000, has already lured some of racing's biggest names.

By Supplied

Top tier jockeys Hugh Bowman, who steered the legendary mare Winx to 33 victories, and James McDonald, 2021 Melbourne Cup winner aboard Verry Elleegant, have secured rides in Coonamble.

The 10-race program is not only the most races to be held in one day at Coonamble in recent memory but brings together the cream of regional riders, trainers, and horseflesh.

They will be joined trackside by Racing NSW's Graham Hinton, Scott Kennedy, and Brian Charman, Sky TV's racing commentator, Richard Calendar, CEO of the Australian Turf Club, Jamie Barkley and other higher-ranking officials from NSW Racing who will fly direct to Coonamble to avoid Sydney basin floodwaters.

Coonamble Jockey Club president Ken Waterford says preparations have been ongoing with club members working hard to ensure the track is in top shape and the weekend a great social event for everyone who attends. "In November we laid another 1600 square metres of turf on the track, so it's about as good as you can get it, it's unbelievable," Mr Waterford said.

"We also put an automatic watering system too on the outside of the straight to the 500-metre mark."

The Terminus Hotel will host a calcutta and auction with profits to go to the Coonamble Cancer Survival Fund and further improvements at the racecourse.

Racegoers will be treated to a free glass of champagne for all ladies who arrive on course before the second race.

The Fashions on the Field will feature sections for mature and younger ladies, gents, couples, and juniors. As well as a jumping castle for the youngsters, a rov-

ing three-piece brass band will be entertaining the crowd. "It's hard to put a band somewhere on race days - do you go out front of the grandstand, do you go near the bar, or out near the marquees?" Mr Waterford said.

"This way the band can be anywhere and everywhere people want them on the day."

The 343 Brass Band are a New Orleans-style line-up featuring some of Sydney’s top young horn players and drummers and have promised an energetic mix of jazz, pop, RnB, and gospel tunes that will liven up the atmo- sphere at Coonamble racecourse.

Another race day attraction will be a life-sized sculp- ture by local artist Brian Campbell, who has made a name for himself creating animals and people from wire netting.

On Saturday, a Clydesdale/Persian-cross heavy horse named Clyde, will hold court trackside, putting in an appearance before he receives his final touches and is transported to his new home in a private garden at Mt Tambourine in Queensland.

Mr Campbell’s piece will not be complete at the championships, as Clyde is yet to be rigged with collar, haines, winkers and reins but horse lovers and art lovers alike should enjoy meeting him at the races. 

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