Kosciuszko just the ticket for punters
THE Kosciuszko, worth $1.3 million and the world's richest country thoroughbred race, is also the people's race.
For just a $5 investment, NSW race fans and punters could have a chance to "own" a Kosciuszko runner in the $1.3 million race and share in the rich prizemoney.
Country trainers across NSW are already revising race programs to concentrate on The Kosciuszko, which will be a set weights and penalties race run over 1200m at The Everest meeting at Royal Randwick on October 13.
TAB Fixed Odds price assessors opened betting on $1.3 million sprint within minutes of Racing Minster Paul Toole's Kosciuszko announcement on Wednesday, with the Matthew Dunn-trained Care To Think early favourite at $6 ahead of Eckstein and Victorem at $8.
Trainer Danny Williams, one of NSW country racing's leading trainers, has a wealth of stable talent eligible for The Kosciuszko including Don't Give A Damn, She Knows, Kopi Luwak, Acquittal, Pumpkin Pie and Highway Sixtysix.
"Racing in the country is really alive and The Kosciuszko is a great concept,'' Williams said.
"The idea of selling it like a lottery is great. This will get a lot of people interested in racing, particularly in the country areas.
"Country racing has been boosted by this incentive and it should help country trainers attract a broader range of owners.''
The Kosciuszko concept is similar to $13 million The Everest, with slot-holders negotiating with owners and racing for the big purse.
However, The Kosicuszko costs only $5 to be involved whereas it takes $600,000 to buy an Everest slot.
Through a joint venture promotion with the Australian Hotels Association, Tabcorp and Racing NSW, members of the public will be able to buy tickets in a sweepstake at all NSW AHA hotels that feature TAB outlets and through TAB electronic betting terminals.
The tickets go on sale on Wednesday and the draw will be held on September 14, when 12 lucky winners will be announced.
Each winning ticket holder will then have an entry in The Kosciuszko and can select a NSW country-trained horse to race in their entry, subject to agreeing with the horse's owners as to how they will share the prizemoney for the race.
"This is an exciting new concept involving the public which will further stimulate racing in country NSW,'' Racing NSW chairman Russell Balding said.
Lion Nathan will be sponsoring The Kosciuszko race in association with its Kosciuszko beer brand.
Racing NSW has pledged $125,000 from the sale of tickets in the Kosciuszko promotion to the Aussie Helpers charity to support NSW farmers.
AHA NSW chief executive officer John Whelan said: "In country towns across NSW the local pubs and the racing community have supported each other for over a century. We're thrilled to back the world's richest country race.
"We really think our patrons, especially our hotel punters clubs, will get behind this exciting opportunity.
"For the cost of a $5 ticket it gives everyone the chance to 'own' a runner in a $1.3 million race on Everest Day."
Adam Rytenskild, Tabcorp managing director of wagering and media said it was "genuinely exciting for TAB to be part of the inaugural Kosciuszko supporting our partners, Racing NSW and the AHA''.
"The innovative thinking behind The Kosciuszko will engage punters, owners, industry and ultimately racegoers as The Everest builds to one of the world's most exciting and unique race days,'' Rytenskild said.
"It will be such a thrill for everyone connected to the 12 runners in The Kosciuszko, including the Hotels where the sweepstake tickets were sold."
THE MAIN CONTENDERS
Care To Think - Richly talented son of champion So You Think who won the Magic Millions Cup earlier this year and was competitive at Group 1 level in Brisbane during the winter.
Eckstein - A top class mare who was narrowly beaten in the Group 1 Myer Classic by The Everest contender Shoals earlier this season. She wasn't beaten far in a series of races at the top level in Sydney during autumn.
Victorem - Outstanding sprinter who reeled off five successive wins including his outstanding Country Championships Final win before his game second in the Hawkesbury Guineas. He is fiercely determined and blessed with brilliant acceleration.
Don't Give A Damn - Dashing galloper who has won five of his eight starts and ran second to Victorem in the Country Championships Final. He has a very high cruising speed and excels on firm tracks.
Kopi Luwak - Lightly-raced rising six-year-old plagued by injuries and restricted to only four starts to date. Showed his ability with impressive win in the Goulburn Country Championships Qualifier before injury cost him a chance in the Final.
Snitz - Promising young sprinter and winner of the Grafton Country Championships Qualifier. He ran well at stakes level in Brisbane during the winter carnival.
Suncraze - He was a top two finisher in his first 12 starts, winning five including the Scone Country Championships Qualifier before failing in the Final and then the Tamworth Cup. Loaded with ability and he enjoys racing at Randwick.
The Monstar - Proven big-race sprinter and multiple stakeswinner. He will be an eight-year-old next season but is racing as well as ever. Effective on all surfaces but he is an absolute star on heavy tracks.
Others include She Knows, After All That, Akasaki, Caerless Choice, O' So Hazy, Perfect Dare, Pumpkin Pie