Countdown is on for 2024 Indigenous harness racing classic

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A talented array of indigenous drivers will be kept busy if they’re keen to contest this year’s J. C. Caffyn Plate at Club Menangle.

A change in conditions for this year’s prestigious race should see the most prolific indigenous reinsmen and women line up for this year’s race, traditionally run on Breeders Challenge final day, in October.

In a week where the nation celebrates NAIDOC (National Aborigines’ and Islanders’ Day Observance Committee) Week, Club Menangle has found the perfect time to reveal updated conditions for this year’s Plate.

While last year’s winner, Lleyton Green (pictured), is assured of a start in the race, the final field of drivers will see the top seven indigenous drivers from the NSW premiership earn invitations to drive in the race – a $20,000 non-penalty event for pacers with a national rating up to 80.

Club Menangle racing manager David Wonson says that each indigenous driver would be allotted five points for every win around the state, with three points for finishing second and two points for third.

“The drivers will also receive one point for every drive they have had during the 2024 racing season, up until and including Tuesday, October 8,” Wonson said.

“There will also be two opportunities for an invitation to compete in the Caffyn Plate.

“That will be confirmed by Monday, October 14 and if not used then those spots would go to the next-best placed drivers in the NSW premiership.”

Wonson said a notice would be sent to all previous and new indigenous drivers to nominate their intention to contest the J. C Caffyn Plate and they could do that by e-mailing no later than August 1.

That list will then be confirmed by Harness Racing NSW and all drivers must have been licensed during 2024.

“An updated premiership will be listed each fortnight until October 8,” Wonson said.

“The club has opted to make our award winning indigenous drivers’ race a stand-alone event as was the original format.

“The qualification process, combined with the opportunity to invite two drivers, will ensure we have the very best indigenous drivers fighting it out on-track for the honour of getting their name engraved on the J. C. Caffyn Plate.”

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