Minister for Racing Paul Toole with part-owner of Belflyer, Troy Hogan. Picture: Bradley Photography.

The NSW Nationals have congratulated all regional racers involved in last weekend’s successful Kosciuszko horse race.

Grafton-trained horse Belflyer won the first $1.3 million Kosciuszko, the richest country race in Australia, at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

In July, Minister for Racing and NSW Nationals Member for Bathurst Paul Toole announced The Kosciuszko, which was held on Everest Day at Royal Randwick, as a race exclusively for NSW country-trained horses. Mr Toole presented the trophy to the owners of Belflyer on Saturday.

“It’s been a real boost by showcasing country racing at Royal Randwick on one of the biggest days on the racing calendar,” Mr Toole said. “A huge crowd of more than 40,000 people were at Royal Randwick. It was fantastic that so many were able to travel long distances from regional NSW to be there. I congratulate Racing NSW on this exciting new initiative to support regional NSW racing, which plays such a vital role in cities and towns across the state.”

The public had the chance to own a share in horses running in The Kosciuszko by buying tickets through TAB outlets in pubs. Run over 1200 metres, the race attracted sprinters from across the State.

Belflyer is trained by John Shelton of Grafton. Second was Suncraze, trained by Melanie O’Gorman of Tamworth, and third was Awesome Pluck, trained by Jenny Graham of Port Macquarie. Other horses in the race were trained in Goulburn, Mudgee, Murwillumbah, Scone, Taree and Wagga Wagga.

Further support for country racing is being provided through the Back to the Track Regional Racing Grants program. Regional racing clubs across the three codes had the opportunity apply for a share in $400,000 for projects that build stronger links with their communities.

“Back to the Track is a great opportunity for clubs to come up with creative ideas to build new markets or help people gain a start in the industry through education and training,” Mr Toole said. “While it was great to see people from the country visiting Royal Randwick, I want to ensure that there are even more reasons for people from Sydney to visit races in the country.”