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RQ to showcase country stars

By Jordan Gerrans0D1A3759.jpg

With a healthy “pot of gold” on offer later in the year, the top bush pacers from around Queensland are ready for the 2021 Garrard's Showcase series.

Racing Queensland had planned to introduce the new series last year but with the impacts of COVID-19 on the racing industry, it was put on hold for 12 months.

The 2021 Garrard's Showcase series kicks off this week at Warwick for the first time with six other locations to follow later in the year before the big $20,000 Final at Redcliffe during the TAB Constellations Carnival.

The Garrard's Showcase will be a key part of the TAB Constellations Carnival, with the series to highlight regional participants at the same time as some of the country’s brightest stars.

The Garrard's Showcase will provide qualifiers from across the state with the opportunity to win their way into the carnival, starting at Warwick.

In a concept mirroring the highly successful TAB Battle of the Bush for thoroughbreds, the Showcase will see horses qualify via the show circuit from March to May before contesting the $20,000 Final at the Redcliffe feature night in June.

Redcliffe Peninsula Harness Racing and Sporting Club Bernie Ring is looking forward to hosting the series culmination, with heats to be run at Redcliffe on June 18 and the final at Redcliffe on June 26 as part of the TAB Constellations Carnival.

“It is great money for the show people and show racing was once upon a time a very significant part of racing in Queensland,” Ring said.

“It went away around five to 10 years ago due to circumstances beyond our control, but through the efforts of Chris Garrard and companies, it is back after people backed it.

“They get good audiences there on the feature nights, we are really looking forward to that.

“Going around to all the shows again, a lot of people will be looking to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the $20,000 on offer in the Final.”

The series kicks off this week at Warwick before turning to Nanango, Toowoomba, South Burnett (Kingaroy), Marburg, Gympie and Boonah.

“We are looking forward to hosting it because a lot of the people that race at Redcliffe, they grew up on show racing circuit before venturing into the mainstream,” Ring said.

“The people always go back to these shows, it is bread and butter racing for these people.”

Driver-trainer Lola Weidemann will be one to watch at Warwick with a strong team of horses set to feature.

Weidemann picked up a winner on Thursday afternoon at Redcliffe, with her stable in form.

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RQ CEO Brendan Parnell said the Garrard’s Showcase is an exciting initiative.

“Not only does it recognise and reward those contesting the show circuit, but it provides them with added incentive to win their way into a Group 1 feature night,” Parnell said.

“We believe it will quickly become one of the highlights on the Queensland harness racing calendar.”

In addition to the prize money, the winning connections of the Showcase will receive a free service to Burwood Stud’s Changeover courtesy of Garrard’s, while they will also be supplying the winning trainer with a $1000 Garrard’s voucher and all other finalists will receive $100 vouchers.