THE heat will be on 13 two-year-olds tonight as Leeton Harness Racing Club hosts heats for the Southern Central Engineering Breeders Plate at Lin Gordon Paceway.
The meeting, which kicks off with the first race at 6.33pm, is the third in the club’s Summer Carnival and follows two meets on December 26 and January 1.
Club secretary Joanne Punch said the opening meetings had gone well.
“The crowds have been a bit down, but I think that has been because of the heat,” Punch said. “We’ve had two exceptionally hot events.
“There were no issues with the horses, it has been smooth running.”
However, one downside was the postponement of the Pacers Cup on January 1 due to a lack of runners.
“We are looking at rescheduling, but we don’t have a date yet,” Punch said.
“There are races in Junee on January 27 and because it is a Carnival of Cups we couldn’t have one that close (on January 25).
“It could be the February 1 meeting. We have some good fast races that night.”
Tonight’s meeting will feature nine races in total, including two regional series heats and two heats for the 2019 Breeders Plate, at 9.03pm and 10.03pm.
In a new concept there were no early nominations for this year’s heats. The club received 14 in total and after just one scratching, 13 two-year-olds will line up over the two heats.
“The runners include a couple of Sydney horses and Victoria has one or two, but the majority are Riverina horses,” Punch said.
“We always have good support for the race (from the Riverina), but it is really up to the individual (to enter). Some like to let their horse grow more and it can come back a different horse.
“Each year we evaluate how it goes.
“This year we removed nomination fees and dropped the prize money to $25,000. Harness Racing (NSW) put in $5000 to push it up to $30,000, which is good for the state of racing.”
Further works at the paceway over the past 12 months resulted in one of the biggest track changes for some time - the removal of the running rail.
“We’ve done a lot of work,” Punch said. “We have taken the inside rail out and top dressed the track. It was for safety reasons after we had a couple of falls and they could have hit the rail.
“We had been wanting to do it, but there is a table drain around the inside and we thought we couldn’t do it.
“We’ve also put a jogging track around the inside so now the trainers can jog there instead of on the track.
“We scraped the old gravel off the top of the track before we top-dressed and that’s what we put on the inside for the jogging track.”
The final meet of the Summer Carnival will be held on January 25 and will feature the finals for the 2019 Breeders Plate and CopRice 3YO, as well as support races in different classes.
Canteen, bar and tote facilities will be available tonight and on January 25.
On January 25 there will also be free rides on the Lions train, jumping castles and face painting for the kids, while Mark Smith will provide musical entertainment throughout the night and after the last race.
Meetings will follow on February 1 and 19, and although there’s no races in March, May and June will feature a couple of meetings.
Dates have been released for the 2019-20 race year and Leeton Harness Racing Club has secured eight extra meetings.
“We have races on Tuesdays in July and August so nearly every fortnight we have a race meeting,” Punch said.
- Race fields: Page 20