The best and brightest trotters from across the nation will be given their opportunity to take centre stage throughout this year’s Queensland Constellations.
A new Group 1 trotting feature for three and four-year-olds, The Great Square, will form part of this year’s Winter Carnival showpiece at Albion Park on Saturday, July 8.
The new trotting feature boasts $75,000 in prize money, and similar to the Group 1 The Rising Sun, there’s a $25,000 bonus if the race is won by a three-year-old.
There’s also a pair of Group 3 events, the Queensland Derby and Queensland Oaks both worth $30,000, for three-year-old trotters.
In a further boost to the state’s square gaiters, the Queensland Trotters Cup prize money doubles to $100,000, as a part of Harness Racing Australia’s Australian Trotting Masters series.
Albion Park Harness Racing Club Chairman Brad Steele said the added investment was welcomed by the industry.
“For the last four or five years, there’s been a real push when it comes to breeding and racing trotters in Queensland,” Mr Steele said.
“Since the 2018 financial year, the number of trotting races in Queensland has increased by close to 20 per cent.
“During that same period, the total prize money raced for by trotters has increased by over 100 per cent.
“Our club always caters for the trotters and the race numbers recently have been encouraging.”
Racing Queensland’s Executive General Manger Operations, Adam Wallish, said there’s been significant growth in the breeding of trotters in Queensland, resulting in a record number of horses being offered at the Queensland Yearling sales this year.
“With the harness code set to receive almost $5 million in additional prize money from February 1, this is just another example of our commitment to boost the breeding and racing of trotters across the state,” Mr Wallsih said.
In a further positive for the industry, the Redcliffe Trotters Cup will be boosted to $30,000 and elevated to Group 3 status, while the two and three-year-old QBRED trotting features, which will form part of the QStars card, have been lifted to Group 2 level and will now be run for $50,000 apiece.
The 2023 Queensland Constellations will commence on June 16, with Australia and New Zealand’s brightest harness racing stars descending on the Sunshine State.
The six-week program features a raft of enhancements, with more than $3 million up for grabs including seven Group 1s and 20 Group races in total.
RQ is expected to announce further enhancements to the Constellations over the coming weeks.
The spotlight will firmly focus on Albion Park from 1 July with five weeks of thrilling harness action.