NEW DAWN: The Stanthorpe Cup Day has been added to the 2018 Country Cups Challenge.
NEW DAWN: The Stanthorpe Cup Day has been added to the 2018 Country Cups Challenge. File

Inclusion coup for cup day

HORSE RACING: The Stanthorpe Cup has landed a huge coup, being included in the newly created Country Cups Challenge.

The inclusion in the cups first outing brings with it more prestige, more punters, likelihood of bigger fields and over time, greater income for the jockey club.

Racing Queensland announced the Country Cups Challenge in late July, which will have a $70,000 metropolitan final on Group Three George Moore Stakes Day at Doomben on December 1.

The final will be run over 1600 metres as a Quality Handicap with qualifiers having run in at least three non-TAB races in the 12 months immediately preceding acceptance date for that qualifying race.

There will be a series of heats run in 16 cup races across Queensland between September and November.

The newly-named Bill and Melissa Kerr K&A Building Stanthorpe Cup Open 1400m Handicap is one of those chosen few, sandwiched between legs in Innisfail and Gympie.

"It'll certainly help as far as attracting horses goes,” Stanthorpe Jockey Club president Neil Brunckhorst said.

"What we find quite often is if a trainer brings a horse for one race, he'll bring another for another race.

"I reckon it will ensure a full field - you can pretty well guarantee we'll have 12.

"So basically the winners in each leg will go into that $70,000 final in Brisbane.”

The prizemoney in Stanthorpe will remain the same for now but the carrot for participants is what's on offer at Doomben.

Fields have been down slightly in recent years due, in part, to changes south of the border and the attraction for horses to come up from NSW, but Brunckhorst is hopeful this will change their fortunes.

"It's a boost for country racing,” he said.

"Our area of Eastern Downs has 17 clubs and there was only two of those 17 picked and we were one.

"We've got a pretty good reputation and we haven't had much help from Racing Queensland in the past as far as these sorts of events.

"Bigger clubs like Warwick and Dalby and that, they get help all the time so this has just given us a chance and we'll get something out of it.

"I think it'll generate a lot of interest for us. Racing Queensland is going to give it a lot of promotion as well.

"I'd say we as a club will benefit from that.

"I think it's just a bit of recognition for all the hard work we've put in,” he said.

The jockey club has started preparations for the October 20 race day.

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