Tribeca Star wins the $150000 Newhaven Park NRRA Country Championships over 1410m at Grafton. Image: Racing NSW screenshot

Star galloper qualifies for $1 million final

Emma Pritchard


Given less than 24-hours-notice by Racing NSW stewards after more than 50mm of rain-soaked Lismore racecourse last week, deeming the surface unsuitable for racing, the Clarence River Jockey Club (CRJC) was called upon to host an eight-race program on February 17, including the $150000 Newhaven Park NRRA Country Championships over 1410m.

The first of several qualifying events to be held throughout regional NSW, 14 gallopers headed to the barriers for the running of the feature event, with the winner and runner-up securing a place in the $1 million Newhaven Park Country Championships Final to be held at Royal Randwick during the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival on April 6.

Among them were Emperor, Al Ash Lad, Veandechance, Tribeca Star, and Rainbow Connection, all prepared by prominent Northern Rivers trainer Matthew Dunn at Murwillumbah.

With the track upgraded to a Soft 5 following the running of Race 6 and the rail out 3m for the entire circumference, Dunn revealed that while he was a little concerned for a number of his contenders after rain fell earlier in the day, he was always confident in their abilities.

And so were the punters.

Having his seventh start since September 2023, consistent gelding Tribeca Star assumed favouritism for the race at $2.80 ahead of his stablemate Emperor at $4.20 just prior to the gates being released.

Settling midfield for jockey Matthew McGuren, the four-year-old son of Star Turn found a gap between horses at the top of the home straight and powered to the line, defeating another stablemate Rainbow Connection by half a length to give Dunn the quinella and two qualifiers in the final.

“He’s done a wonderful job, he’s been up for a long time,” said the winning trainer of Tribeca Star.

“He’s covered plenty of miles on the highway, he’s been up and down the coast three times, and it was great to see him do that (win) today.”

While he conceded Rainbow Connection didn’t get as soft a run as Tribeca Star, Dunn said to have two horses qualify for the $1 million Newhaven Park Country Championships Final was the result the stable had been looking for.

Both horses are expected to race again prior to April.

“They’re big, strong horses,” he said.

“That goes a long way in high pressure races, and that’s what it’s going to be like at Royal Randwick.”