The coveted $1.6 million Country Championships will have a fresh feel in 2021 with two new tracks given a second chance to host heats for the first time on a double header opening weekend for the series next month.
Racing NSW announced the dates for both the Country Championships and Provincial Championships on Tuesday with the former set to begin in early February at Coffs Harbour.
Wet weather prevented Coffs Harbour (Northern Rivers region) and Nowra (South East) from hosting qualifiers for the time last year but the two tracks will get another chance to kick off the Country this year.
Coffs Harbour (February 13) will have the honour before Nowra (Feb 14) is followed by Wagga Wagga (Feb 20), Taree (Feb 21), Mudgee (Feb 28), Tamworth (March 7) and Coonamble (March 14).
Wagga host the qualifier for the first time since 2018 after the past two years the Southern Districts heat was held in nearby Albury.
The Wildcard qualifier which offers a last chance saloon into the final will be at Muswellbrook on March 21.
The heat heats will culminate with the Country Championships Final on April 3 at Randwick with prizemoney reverting back to $500,000 after COVID forced winnings to be slashed by $100,000 last year.
Through The Cracks (centre) won last year’s Provincial Championships. Photo: AAP Image/Dan HimbrechtsSource:AAP
All five Provincial tracks will again host a $150,000 qualifier for the $500,000 final to be held on day two of The Championships at Randwick on April 10.
Newcastle was forced to host the Gosford and Wyong qualifiers as well last year due to wet weather and the Broadmeadow circuit will kick off proceedings in 2021 on February 27.
Hawkesbury (March 6), Gosford (March 13), Kembla Grange (March 20) and Wyong (March 27) will follow.
Country Championships qualifiers
Saturday, February 13 – Coffs Harbour (Northern Rivers)
Sunday, February 14 – Nowra (South East)
Saturday, February 20 – Wagga Wagga (Southern Districts)
Sunday, February 21 – Taree (Mid North Coast)
Sunday, February 28 Mudgee (Central Districts)
Sunday, March 7 – Tamworth (Hunter & North West)
Sunday, March 14 – Coonamble (Western)
Sunday, March 21 – Muswellbrook (Wild Card)
Provincial Championships qualifiers
Saturday, February 27 – Newcastle
Saturday, March 6 – Hawkesbury
Saturday, March 13 – Gosford
Saturday, March 20 – Kembla Grange
Saturday, March 27 – Wyong
Originally published asCountry & Provincial Champs dates announced
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