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Quest to qualify highlights importance of Battle of the Bush

By Alex Nolan

Racing Queensland’s inaugural $100,000 Battle of the Bush series has uncovered incredible examples of grit and determination from some of regional racing’s unsung heroes – none more so than Olivia Cairns.

The Mackay trainer was so committed to qualify her horse Mason’s Chance, she raced him four times before the Barcaldine Battle of the Bush qualifier on Saturday, where the horse finally booked its place in the final at Doomben on June 23.

Cairns travelled the length and breadth of Queensland to get Mason’s Chance into the field, falling short in races at Emerald, Bowen, Thangool and Home Hill, where he finished second to stablemate Stellar Knight.

“Stellar Knight was supposed to be a travelling partner for Mason’s Chance but actually managed to beat him home,” Cairns said.

“I trained a double in Townsville on Saturday but I think I was more excited about Mason’s Chance qualifying! It’s incredible to think how many kilometres we’ve travelled trying to get him in.”

Cairns has been training for 20 years and is one of the more than 9000 Queenslanders who sustain full time equivalent jobs in the racing industry. She has 14 horses in work and employs three staff, all of which are looking forward to taking part in the excitement of a Group 1 race day.

“It’s a really good opportunity. The Battle of the Bush adds a lot of character to a big race day and we’ll get to rub shoulders with some of the country’s best trainers and jockeys,” she said.

Racing Queensland General Manager of Racing Simon Stout said the Battle of the Bush series had captured the attention of racing fans and participants across the state.

“The Battle of the Bush is a chance for participants in these regions to experience the thrill of racing for stakes-level prize money on a Group 1 day,” he said. 

“Racing contributes $1.2 billion to the Queensland economy each year, with 47% of this value realised in regional and rural parts of the state.

“The series has highlighted the importance racing has played, and continues to play, in shaping regional and rural Queensland communities. The interest in the series has been remarkable, with each qualifier dominating headlines in each of the 16 towns involved.”

More details: http://www.racingqueensland.com.au/Thoroughbred-Industry/2018-Battle-of-the-Bush-Series