Grafton will host the first $150,00 heat of next year’s Country Championships series with Wyong to kick off the Provincial Series.
The first country heat will be at the Northern Rivers club on February 12 with the Wyong race on February 23.
The Country Championship final will be at Randwick on April 1 with the Provincial final a week later.
“There have only been two runnings of the Country and Provincial Championships and in the qualifiers and finals we have witnessed some exciting and extremely competitive racing right around the state,” Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys said.
“The Country and Provincial Championships have exceeded expectations, with participants and the general public embracing the concept resulting in increased crowd figures and strong wagering turnovers.
Last year’s Country winner Clearly Innocent went on to win the Luskin Star Stakes at the Scone carnival while Provincial winner Danish Twist also won a stakes race at Scone followed by the June Stakes at Randwick.
There will again be seven district heats in the Country series plus a last-chance “wild card” at Muswellbrook on March 28 while there is a heat at each of the five NSW provincial venues.
2017 COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Feb 12: Grafton (Northern Rivers)
Feb 18: Goulburn (South East)
Feb 19: Dubbo (Western)
Feb 26: Taree (Mid North Coast)
March 5: Scone (Hunter and North West)
March 12: Wellington (Central Districts)
March 19: Albury (Southern Districts)
March 26: Muswellbrook ‘Wild Card’
2017 PROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Feb 23: Wyong
March 2: Hawkesbury
March 15: Gosford
March 23: Kembla Grange
March 29: Newcastle