EXCLUSIVE: ‘Biggest, richest’ equine event set for Rocky
EQUINE events are well and truly back in action across Central Queensland following confirmation the region will host its biggest two-day event in coming weeks.
The revelation was this afternoon made by ABHA director Suzie Patterson at the very site in which the Horse Barrel Racing event will now take place - Gracemere's CQLX.
Initially slated to take place in Tamworth, the massive event was subsequently forced to look elsewhere due to tight border closures.
It will now take place over the October 31 and November 1, though a trial event will also be held this coming Sunday.
"ABHA Capricorn Coast were offered an incentive to run the Queensland State Championships, so it's going to be one of the biggest barrel racing events to hit Queensland, and probably Australia this year," Ms Patterson said.
More than 350 competitors are expected to take place in the event, many of them set to journey from rural areas.
"It's all about getting that social feel back into the community and families for a lot of them how are from rural areas," she said.
"We've got the fastest horse power coming here from the country, then we've got the juniors section as well, and they're running as fast as those open division."
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ABHA Capricorn Coast assistant secretary Marie Prow added the solution of having Rockhampton host the event proved a logical one.
"Since restrictions eased in July, we've held our regular monthly club barrel events which has attracted at least 90 open competitors to those events," she said.
"There's no qualifying rounds, it's the first time that it's open up without any qualification. It'll actually be the richest and biggest single-weekend barrel racing event in Queensland ever."
Ms Prow said this was pinned down to many equestrian riders crossing over to the sport due to their former disciplines still enacting tight restrictions - evident by record nominations.
"A lot of our regional competitors are in the barrel horse industry; we've got some that take it pretty seriously and import stallions now from America," she said.
"It gives them an opportunity to expose their stallions, we're in breeding season right now so all of that is a big help to the industry itself which has taken a bit of a battering."
Competitors will also go in with a shot to win an array of brand new saddles, trophy rugs, decorative boots and buckles.
However, as expected, organisers have jumped through hoops to ensure a COVID-19 safety was implemented.
RLX's Queensland Regional Operations manager Gavin Tickle said CQLX was thrilled to be part of the historic event.
"It's been a commitment of ours to council and the community that once we got to certain stage of our redevelopments here that we would open this back up for community groups to use."
Though, preparations for the big event have not proved easy.
He estimated at least 60 loads of sawdust and dirt, along with sales pens had to be removed before 1000 cubic metres of granite and sand could be shipped in.