2017 Country Championships
Launched in 2015, the inaugural Country Championships proved a resounding success for the racing industry and generated unprecedented interest and coverage.
An initiative of Racing NSW and supported by the Government of NSW, The Country Championships was created to support and promote NSW racing in country areas, ensuring that horses from across the state are part of The Championships in Sydney in the autumn.
About The Series
Sunday, 5 March 2017 SCONE 1400m Hunter & North West
Sunday 26 March 2017 MUSWELLBROOK 1280m Wildcard - All regions
Saturday, 1 April 2017 ROYAL RANDWICK 1400m FINAL
Only a short 90 minute drive from Newcastle CBD and 3 hours from Sydney, the Upper Hunter Valley offers visitors a true country experience. If you are after a weekend break to escape the hustle and bustle of city life but don't want to venture too far then the Upper Hunter is the ideal location.
Most of the Upper Hunter's generous 18,000 square kilometres is devoted to national parks, nature reserves as well as rural uses like grazing, cropping, dairy farming and horse studs. Before you even leave the highway you will see cows, sheep and goats grazing and horse galloping in the fields.
We have an enticing selection of award winning and boutique epicurean food producers, wineries, cafes and restaurants. There is an annual calendar of festivals and events which includes many diverse horse activities to experience and enjoy.
The region is world famous as the horse capital of Australia and is home to many world-renowned horse studs, and the Australian Stock Horse Society National Headquarters.
The Upper Hunter is also the gateway to the wilderness of the Barrington Tops National Park where you can get lost from the outside world and embrace the rivers, forests and mountainous countryside. Lake Glenbawn also provides for fishing, water skiing and boating, with some gorgeous picnic spots to indulge in sampling the region's food and wines.
The region is one of the most diverse environments in Australia, from western grassland to alpine forests and subtropical zones. There are a wide variety of national parks ranging from comfortable family picnic grounds at Towarri National Park to wilderness areas of the Barrington Tops and Goulburn River National Parks. So whether walking, riding or four wheel driving, there's a place for you.
The Upper Hunter has a wide variety of accommodation from luxury B&Bs to award winning motels, caravan parks, cabins, farm stays and apartments.
Whether you are looking for a short break or a long stay, the region offers an enticing variety of activities. So pack the family, bikes and boats and come on up!
The historic Widden Stud in the south west corner of Muswellbrook Shire provided an outstanding insight into the Thoroughbred Breeding Industry which is a major part of the economy in Upper Hunter Country.
Widden Stud put out the welcome mat to well over 200 members of the public on Saturday 23rd August when they presented 11 magnificent stallions at their annual Open Day. The parade included such great performers as Serbring, Zoustar, Stratum, Shamus Award and Star Witness.
The stud covers over 8,000 acres along the narrow valley floor of Widden Brook surrounded by the ancient sandstone cliffs of the Wollemi National Park. As well as the world famous thoroughbred enterprise, Widden also operates a high quality commercial beef herd including Hereford and Santa Gertrudes cross cattle. The valley is home to other famous horse studs including the neighbouring
Baramul Stud operated by well-known Australian business entrepreneur, Gerry Harvey.
The property has been the home of the Thompson family since the 1830s with the first racehorses bred at the stud in 1867. Since then, racehorses from Widden have taken on the best on the track in Australia and around the world. The stud has an outstanding record of winners over many generations.
For racing and racehorse enthusiasts, the list horses from Widden reads like the “Who’s Who” of the thoroughbred world. A row of “headstones” chronicle the Stud’s fabulous history and outstanding breeding record with names such as Vain, Bletchingly, Todman and Marscay etched in sandstone tablets from the surrounding cliffs dating back beyond the Dreamtime.