Feature Dates Clash Leaves Trainers Baffled

AN “inexplicable” clash in dates will see a number of trainers forced into choosing between the G2 Richmond Derby-Oaks or Country Classic.

AN "inexplicable" clash in dates will see a number of trainers forced into choosing between targeting the Group 2 Richmond Derby and Oaks or lucrative Country Classic series at Dubbo.

At a time where prize money has never been better yet the pool of group class quality greyhounds has never been lower, the clash between these fast approaching NSW feature events has left a number of trainers frustrated.

"It's absolute madness," said one NSW trainer who asked not to be named.

"I can understand interstate events landing on top of each other but to have races like this run into each other makes no sense at all.

"I'm not sure who programs these races but we need to be better. We are only hurting ourselves. It's inexplicable to be honest."

The heats and final of the Group 2 Richmond Derby and Oaks (520m), both boasting $50,000-to-the-winner, are slated for (Friday) February 23 and (Friday) March 1.

Qualifiers for the March 9 semi-finals of the Country Classic (605m), the world's richest middle distance event with a $125,000 first prize, begin at Grafton on (Sunday) February 25 and conclude at Dubbo on (Saturday) March 2.

The scheduling conflict makes it impossible to successfully contest both events.

"People might say one race is 520m and one is 600m but how many dogs do we see these days switching between the two trips?" the trainer added.

"It adds to the interest of these big races. Strong dogs dropping back to the 500 and dogs you think might run the 600 stepping up. With these dates clashing everyone loses. Participation, wagering … all metrics.

"The earning potential is reduced and two feature events will lose some depth and quality especially in the heats and qualifiers."

Following the finale of the Country Classic on March 16, there is a fortnight gap until the Group 1 Golden Easter Egg gets underway at Wentworth Park.

Adding a further spanner into the works for Country Classic qualification is the changes to this year's Australian Cup Carnival.

For the first time in 2024, the Group 1 Rookie Rebel (600m) will be staged on Australian Cup final night (February 24), leaving connections of the eight finalists few options if they choose to contest the Country Classic qualifiers which begin a day later on February 25 and conclude the following Saturday on March 2.

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