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Top Trainers and Jockeys Lineup For 135th Birdsville Races

September 1, 2017 Sports No Comments Email Email

Top trainers and jockeys from across Australia have been confirmed for Outback Queensland’s richest two-day race-meet this September 1 & 2, with the Birdsville Races today announcing acceptances for the 2017 event.

A total of 93 horses, 19 trainers and 15 jockeys have been accepted for the bumper two-day, 13-race program, with the final field collectively journeying more than 10,000kms, from places as far away as Darwin, Strathalbyn, Port Lincoln, Bendigo and the Sunshine Coast.

Among the trainers are Barcaldine’s Todd Austin, with eight acceptances, and Roma trainer Craig Smith, with 11 acceptances including the Adrian Coome-ridden Big Fella in the headline $35,000 Birdsville Cup (1600m).

Austin, a Birdsville Cup winner in 2013 with the Group 1-placed filly Playtime, has attended more than 30 Birdsville Races since he was a young boy.

Smith is one of the most successful trainers in the Birdsville Races’ long history. He won his first Birdsville Cup in 2012 and notched the most wins at the Birdsville Races for two consecutive years in 2014-15.

Joining Smith and Austin will be Port Lincoln trainer Ryan Dawson with seven acceptances. History is on Dawson’s side, with Ryan the grandson of late Birdsville legend George Dawson, who trained seven Birdsville Cup winners over a 30 year period, including three in succession from 1982 to 1984.

Female trainers also have a strong presence at this year’s event. Mount Isa trainer Denise Ballard leads the women’s charge with seven acceptances, while Sunshine Coast trainer Kristie Clark-Peoples – also wife of two-time Birdsville Cup-winning jockey Gary Geran – has five horses in contention.

Mount Isa has the strongest contingent of trainers in 2017, with seven trainers fielding horses across the two days of racing, including former Birdsville Cup winner Jay Morris.

Toowoomba trainer Bevan Johnson leads overall acceptances for the 2017 event, with 16 of his horses confirmed to run across the race program.

Johnson has made the 1,454 km journey to Birdsville after freshly claiming this year’s Queensland country trainers’ title, having trained 70 winners at bush race-meets in 2016-17.

John’s daughter Dakota Graham, who recently took out the QLD country jockeys’ premiership, headlines the jockey field, which also includes Rockhampton jockeys Elyce Smith and Adrian Coome, as well as former Birdsville Cup winners Gary Geran and Dan Ballard.

“The Birdsville Races have historically attracted a strong contingent of jockeys, trainers and horses to outback Queensland – and this year is no exception,” said Gary Brook, Vice President, Birdsville Race Club.

“It’s a unique bucket-list experience for people in the racing industry, punters and spectators alike, and that’s why we’re all still out here kicking up the dust some 135 years on.

“Last year was challenging with the rain, but the forecast is all clear for blue skies and warm weather – and we’re looking forward to hosting a great meet.”

The 2017 Birdsville Races offer up a combined $200,000 prize-purse, plus a further $12,500 in QTIS (Queensland Thoroughbred Incentive Scheme) bonuses – making it one of the richest regional race meets in Australia.

A number of race program changes have been this year, with several races moving from class-based handicaps to benchmark races, as well as the introduction of a second 1600m race – the $12,500 Benchmark 55 Handicap on September 1.

The 2017 race program is headlined by the prestigious $35,000 Birdsville Cup (1600m), which takes place on Saturday, September 2.

In 2016, history was made at the Birdsville Races made when Perth-based jockey Kayla Cross rode to victory on the Heather Lehmann-trainedMoore Alpha – the first time an all-female jockey-trainer duo had taken out the Birdsville Cup in 134 years.

Proudly supported by Tourism and Events Queensland’s It’s Live! in Queensland major events calendar, the Birdsville Races are led by an organising committee comprised of a network of current and former residents of Birdsville, all keen to share the magic of the outback races – keeping the event alive and in the psyche of Australian punters.

What:                                   Birdsville Races

Where:             Birdsville, Queensland

When:                                  Friday 1st & Saturday 2nd September 2017

How much:                   Two day packages start from AU$62.75

More info:                          www.birdsvilleraces.com

Road trip video:              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgPYvu7_ZfA

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