The Lismore Turf Club (LTC) will host a Country Championships qualifier for the first time ever.
Racing NSW announced the 2024 dates and venues for the Newhaven Park Country Championships Series with Lismore named as the host of the Northern Rivers qualifier.
LTC operations manager Daniel Kedraika said the club had been through a rough trot over the past few years with Covid-19 lockdowns closely followed by the devastating Lismore floods in 2022.
LTC has been hard at work to improve the track, build fields and improve crowds, Mr Kedraika said, and to now to be hosting the Northern Rivers qualifier was "absolutely huge" for the club.
"It's just a huge honour and something we've been trying to do - trying to lift our presence on the racing map and highlight what we've got out here," Mr Kedraika said.
"There's been some hard work and we're absolutely thrilled. We couldn't be more excited to host it."
In 2024, the Country Championships series will be made up of seven regional qualifiers and two wild card races - each worth $150,000 in prizemoney.
They will culminate in the final with $1 million in prizemoney up for grabs to see total prizemoney for the series sit at a record $2.35m.
"The Country Championships have been a tremendous success since their inception," Racing NSW chief executive Peter V'landys said.
"This will be the 10th running in 2024 which is being marked by prizemoney for the final increasing to $1m [up from $500,000]."
The qualifying series in 2024 will again be run on six Sundays, two Saturdays and a Friday.
Lismore (Northern Rivers) will kick off the country championships on Saturday, February 17, 2024, followed by Albury in the Southern Districts on Sunday, February 18.
The series then features another double header on the weekend of February 24-25 at Tuncurry-Forster (Mid North Coast) and Mudgee (Central Districts).
Moruya again hosts the South East qualifier on Sunday, March 3, followed by Tamworth (Hunter and North West) on Sunday, March 10, with the regional qualifiers again finishing in the Western region at Coonamble on Sunday, March 17.
Northern and southern wild card races will then be staged with the winners qualifying for the final.
The Northern Wild Card is scheduled for Scone on Friday, March 22. The Southern Wild Card is to be held at Goulburn on Sunday, March 24.