A raft of prize money increases headlined by The Rising Sun has ensured the Queensland Constellations will dazzle the harness world once again this year.
Scheduled for Saturday 8 July at Albion Park, The Rising Sun jumps from $300,000 to $350,000, with an additional $100,000 bonus for a three-year-old winner.
For the first time, the Albion Park Harness Racing Club and Racing Queensland will issue three four-year-old invites, in addition to the two three-year-old invites, with the winner of the Queensland Sun also progressing through to the Group 1 The Rising Sun.
This follows the earlier Creek news that Queensland’s premier Group 1 feature, the Ladbrokes Blacks A Fake, is now worth $400,000 and the traditional lead up to our only Grand Circuit event, the Group 1 Garrards Sunshine Sprint, now boasts stakes of $200,000.
In other prize money boosts, the Queensland Derby and Queensland Oaks, both sponsored by Ladbrokes, will now be run for $150,000 each. Open class mares will also be given the chance to shine, with a string of features throughout the Constellations including the $50,000 Fleur De Lil and the $150,000 Group 1 The Golden Girl. The 4YO Championship (Group3) and The Rising Sun Consolation both have $50,000 purses.
Albion Park Harness Racing Chairman Brad Steele said subtle tweaks and constant enhancements ensure the Queensland Constellations maintain their lustre.
“The Creek and RQ are constantly working together to drive innovation in Queensland harness racing,” Mr Steele said.
“There is no doubt our 2023 Queensland Constellations, headlined by the Ladbrokes Blacks A Fake, has raised the bar yet again.
“It is now regarded by most as the premier winter racing carnival in the Australasian harness industry.”
RQ EGM Operations Adam Wallish said the prize money increases would ensure that Queensland remains the place to race in June and July.
“The Queensland Constellations is our flagship harness racing carnival, and we’re excited to see it now in its third iteration go to another level in 2023,” Mr Wallish said.
“Prize money for the code has doubled since FY18, now reaching close to $32 million per annum, and these increases will ensure that the carnival attracts some of Australasia’s best pacers and trotters to the Sunshine State.
“The code has so much to look forward to with the world-class Queensland Harness Centre to be built at Norwell, alongside the return of the Inter Dominion in December.”
Last month, it was announced that a new Group 1 trotting feature for three and four-year-olds, The Great Square, would form part of this year’s Constellations, held at Albion Park on Saturday, July 8.
With support from sponsor Haras de Trotteurs, the race will now be run for $150,000 plus a $25,000 bonus should a 3YO win the race.
In addition, the three-year-old trotters will also get their opportunity to shine, with a pair of Group 3 events introduced in the form of the Queensland Derby and Queensland Oaks – both worth $30,000.
Staged from June 16 to July 22 at Albion Park, Redcliffe and Marburg, more than $3 million in prize money and bonuses go on the line throughout the Constellations, including eight Group 1s and 20 feature races.