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Group 1 Jockey talent to compete in Birdsville Races for the first time in 15 years

A stellar field will line up for the 134th Birdsville Races on September 2 & 3 2016, with Australia’s most iconic outback thoroughbred racing carnival attracting Group 1 jockey talent for the first time in 15 years.

Competing in the final field will be Brisbane Group-1 winning jockey Ryan Wiggins, who will ride the Robert Burrow-trained Mossale for the prestigious S35,000 Birdsville Cup (1600m) on Saturday, September 2. 

Joining Wiggins will be six-time Gold Coast Turf Club premiership-winner Daniel Griffin, Queensland Country Jockey of the year Dan Ballard and former Brisbane’s champion apprentice Nathan Day, among others.

121 acceptances for the Birdsville Cup headline a number of strong fields for this year’s two-day racing carnival. The 2016 Races have attracted top weight horses from multiple states, as well as an increase in trainers – who have collectively journeyed more than 10,000kms to compete, from places as far away as Darwin, Tamworth and Sunshine Coast.

Queensland Minister for Tourism and Major Events Kate Jones said the field is set to deliver another spectacular Outback Queensland event: 

“The Birdsville Races are synonymous with the Queensland Outback, drawing thousands of visitors from across Australia,” Ms Jones said.  

“The iconic race week is part of Tourism and Events Queensland’s major events calendar, showcasing the state’s world-class events to visitors from interstate and around the world.”

The 13-race card received a total of 194 nominations, with Barcaline trainer Todd Austin – most known for training the Group 1-placed filly Playtime – leading nominations with 10 horses. 

Returning to compete in 2016 are  a number of former Birdsville Cup-winning trainers including Richard Simpson, Jay Morris, Todd Austin, Ray Hermann, Rodney Robb and Craig Smith, who has notched the most wins at the Birdsville Races for the past two consecutive years. 

Also competing will be Port Lincoln trainer Tod Dawson – son of Birdsville legend George Dawson, who trained 7 Birdsville Cup winners over a 30 year period, including three in a row from 1982 to 1984.

“We’re excited to be welcoming such a strong contingent of jockeys, trainers and horses to Birdsville this year – to offer both them and spectators a race experience like no other,” said Gary Brook, Vice President, Birdsville Race Club.

“We’ve got some really strong jockey and trainer talent on board to compete in 2016, and it will be a thrilling experience to see who takes home the top prizes – both on and off the race track,” added Gary.

The total prize pool for this year’s program is $200,000, making it one of the richest regional race meets in Australia. 

The Birdsville Races remain the centerpiece of the Simpson Desert Racing Carnival (SDRC), attracting more than 7,000 race-goers over the Friday and Saturday race days. The Races are also proudly supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland’s It’s Live! in Queensland major events calendar. 

In 2015, the event achieved a record 121 starters across the 13 race program. Average field sizes were 9.3 starters per race, 16 per cent above the average (8) for non-TAB meetings across Queensland.

To view the full list of nominees for the 2016 Birdsville Races, please visit: www.racingqueensland.com.au