Bigger and better, that's the hope for Dubbo's Harness Racing club ahead of the first outing of the Red Ochre since the race's reclassification.
The marquee Dubbo event received a significant boost when the race was moved up to group 2, and rescheduled for early December this year, giving it a total prize money of $50,000.
Dubbo Harness Racing Club President Len Edwards says it's a fitting status for the biggest race in what he considers one of the heartlands of harness racing.
"Over the years we know that Dubbo and this area out here has been recognised as the home of trotting horse racing," Edwards said.
"In years gone by from Dubbo, Peak Hill, Eugowra, Parkes, there was nearly a trotting horse in every backyard, it's not the same now, but we're still in an area where there's a lot of harness racing."
Edwards said the shift was 'very exciting' after running the event for many years, and will provide more winnings across the entire event.
"Now it's been recognised by Harness Racing NSW as a standalone feature meeting which is an increase of 20000 dollar prize money for the Red Ochre, and will be backed up by seven other races with good, healthy prize money, much more than a normal race meeting."
"We're pleased that after all these years recognition that what we've been doing, that people are seeing the value of it."
The growing prize total also means a bigger, broader field of entrants, with a number of high profile trainers taking a tilt at the newly minted feature.
"It's now got horses from Sydney, Bathurst, Newcastle and further down in the southern regions, that's what we're looking at now, ten of the best horses form all over the state, including the metropolitan areas, it's a pretty good thing for Dubbo, to be recognised and to be running a race like this in the outback."
The previous Red Ochre winner Scarlet Babe will return for Bathurst trainer Bernie Hewitt, but will be contesting the field against the likes of Jason Grimson's Sounds of Terror and the Luke McCarthy driven Bettor Enforce NZ.
"Any one of those eight to ten horses can win that race," Edwards said.
"It's going to be a matter of how the race is run, a lot of people are saying that Luke McCarthy's horse will start as a favourite, but I'm not as sure about that, where they've drawn will play on a lot of those horses, but we'll see."
"The race itself should be very good."
Scarlet Babe, who'll once again be driven by Doug Hewitt, is coming off of a win in Blayney, while Grimson and McCarthy will both be driving in the hopes of securing three wins in a row.
The feature's increased profile will also draw viewers at home, with the track now accommodating additional cameras for broadcasting on the night.
"It's going to be massive now, they're talking about putting a television camera mounted up on the mobile barrier, looking back straight at the horses, there's only six other clubs in the regional NSW area that have a feature race throughout the year, so it's very exciting."
The evening of racing will start from 4.29pm on Sunday, December 1 .