THE $100,000 NRRA Country Championship Qualifier at Clarence River Jockey Club on Friday was the perfect endorsement for the new series.

Designed to give country trainers a crack at the big time, there is a tone of rags to riches in Redwolf's win.

At $21, the four-year-old gelding paid the highest odds of the 14 horses to qualify and provided a career highlight for Junction Hill trainer and barrier attendant Alan Hill. The 60-year-old who "shops at Lifeline and St Vinnies" (page 24) admitted it would feel strange to be dressed in suit and tie for the $300,000 final, which will be run as part of The Championships at Royal Randwick on April 4.

The winner of what is now Grafton's third richest race on the calendar - behind the Grafton Cup and the Ramornie - was one of truly local connections. It was ridden by Ryan's former apprentice Matthew McGuren, who is now based in Brisbane, and the owners of the horse are Terry and Fay Kelly of the Post Office Hotel in Grafton.

The Western Region Association was the seventh and final region to hold its Country Championship Qualifier at Dubbo yesterday.

The Peter Nestor-trained Dane De Lago ($6) saluted by half a length from the Bruce Parker-trained Yes Zariz ($7, Greg Ryan).

Nestor's son Kody Nestor was in the saddle for the win which paid $6.

With 14 horses now qualified it leaves just two spots available, to be decided in the $50,000 Country Championships Wild Card at Muswellbrook this Sunday.

COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIERS

To race in $300,000 final at Royal Randwick on April 4

1st Bathurst: BINALONG ROAD - Mack Griffith ($2.70fav)

2nd Bathurst: ONE LAST POET - Brett Thompson ($17)

1st Pt Macquarie: SHEZA GYPSY - Michael Byers ($8)

2nd Pt Macquarie: EXPLOSIVE SCENE - Marc Quinn ($21)

1st Tamworth: VOODOO LAD - Rodney Northam ($3fav)

2nd Tamworth: TARANGOWER - Paul Messara ($5)

1st Wagga: LOVED UP - Brett Cavanough ($8)

2nd Wagga: YET TO BE CONVINCED - Scott Spackman ($6.50)

1st Grafton: REDWOLF - Alan Ryan ($21)

2nd Grafton: VOLTAIRE LUMIERE - Stephen Lee ($6.50)

1st Goulburn: WITHOUT A SHADOW - Nick Olive ($5)

2nd Goulburn: JUST A BLUR - Barbara Joseph/Paul Jones ($6)

1st Dubbo: DANE DE LAGO - Peter Nestor ($6)

2nd Dubbo: YES ZARIZ - Bruce Parker ($7)

1st Wild Card (at Muswellbrook on Sunday, March 29): ?

2nd Wild Card: ?



So long, and thanks for all the yarns

Premium Content So long, and thanks for all the yarns

Sports journalist Mitchell Keenan writes his final piece at The Daily Examiner

Bushfire recovery vouchers helps kids get back to school

Premium Content Bushfire recovery vouchers helps kids get back to school

$50,000 in vouchers have been distributed by NRCF and Social Futures to more than...

WE ASKED: Could there be a bridge at Lawrence?

Premium Content WE ASKED: Could there be a bridge at Lawrence?

After a recent breakdown of the Bluff Point Ferry near Lawrence, the question was...