Pacers chasing Group One glory in Riverina Region Championships

The David Kennedy trained and Jackson Panting driven, Whereyabinboppin, crossing the line to win his heat of the Riverina Region Championships. Photo: Wagga Harness Racing Club.

This afternoon will see the inaugural running of the Riverina Region Championships final at the Riverina Paceway, with the $100,000 event due to commence at 4.40pm.

The region’s premier harness racing series has been two weeks and 10 heats in the making, with over 100 of the Riverinas most promising pacers whittled down to the best 10, plus two reserves.

In what is a testament to the Wagga Harness Racing Club during the Covid-19 pandemic, their team has done remarkably well to host three consecutive weeks of crowd-less racing, whilst captivating punters and harness racing fans alike, with their social media coverage. 

Club CEO Graeme White admitted that the meetings missed the atmosphere created by the crowds but believed the series had gained some very good attention, in what has been an unprecedented event. 

“This is the inaugural series and there has been a lot of interest, especially as the three codes of racing have primarily been the main sport for people to follow,” White said.

“The crowds create the atmosphere and it’s a shame that hasn’t been possible, but the industry is fortunate to be racing under strict protocols.

“There has been a lot of media coverage and many people are following the race mainly because it is new and something different to follow.”

White said the series offered Riverina harness racing participants a chance to win huge prizemoney and explained that the race carried Group One honours, something not seen in any code of racing in this region before.

“The regional championships concept has worked well, with the winners of the ten heats going through to the final, which is worth $100,000 and is a Group One race,” White said.

“This is the richest race for harness racing ever in the region and the first group One race of any code here.

“There are also consolations for the horses that contested the series, but gained enough points to race in the other races, which each carry prize money of $14,500 and $9,690.”

When discussing the rich final, White couldn’t look past the $1.40 quote and pre-series favourite, Whereyabinboppin, and hinted that the Riverina Paceway’s track record was under threat.

“Whereyabinboppin is a real star, capable of running very fast times,” White said.

“He is unbeaten in eight starts in NSW and seems to float on air when he races.

“The final could see the track record broken with Whereyabinboppin only 0.6 seconds outside the record in his heat.

“It appeared he could have gone faster and he is going to be even better for the final. The draw on the front row in gate five has helped him even more especially with the other main chances, Brooklyns Best and Western Sonador, starting form the second row.”

Outside of the race favourite, White was also pleased to see some new faces competing for Group One glory.

“The other highlight from the heats was seeing some owners and trainers having first time finalists in such a big race,” White said.

“Some of these horses may have surprised some with their heat wins, but they are in the final, which is great for the series.”

There will also be plenty of action in the consolations, with bragging rights and $23,000 up for grabs.

“The consolations are very even with The Ideal Dancer drawn barrier one after running second in both heats,” White said. That’s good form, although I expect Rockita will also be hard to beat.”

“In the second consolation, Delightful Jackie from barrier six after running third and fifth in her heats is the one to beat.”

White and the Wagga Harness Racing Club deserve to be commended for their work during this series, especially with their social networking and Facebook  updates.

The team has conducted pre and post-race interviews and continue to upload interesting content, which is keeping typical race-goers informed from the comfort of their own homes.

Tab Riverina Region Championships Final (Group 1)

No.       Form   Horse  Trainer           Driver Class   Hcp

1.         87441            Streamliner    B Smith           S Maguire       NR70  FR1

2.         7s351 Ultimate Risk D Richardson A Richardson NR65  FR2

3.         59722            The Ideal Dancer (Em1)      P Kahlefeldt   J Kahlefeldt (C)

4.         31131            Mister Donald            S Duck            R Coelli           NR71  FR3

5.         32121            Ideal Fantasy T Judd            P McRae (C)   NR72  FR4

6.         1s111 Whereyabinboppin  D Kennedy     J Painting       NR73  FR5

7.         42422            Topsie Grinner (Em2)          J Powderly     J Seary (C)     NR64

8.         16161            We Salute You           B Woodhouse            B Harpley       NR73  FR6

– Second Row –

9.         63251            Cee Cee Ambro          W Sullivan      W Sullivan      NR67  SR1

10.       00311            Brooklyns Best           E Bartley        E Bartley (C)  NR73  SR2

11.       21211            Rocky Creed   C McPherson T Gilligan        NR67  SR3

12.       61111            Western Sonador      E Bartley        B Jones           NR69  SR4