Port Macquarie Country Championship - 6th March 2015

Michael Byers has life-changing moment at Port

Taree trainer Michael Byers says qualifying for the final of The Championships Country Series at Port Macquarie last Friday was the biggest thrill of his 30-year career.

Byers saddled up Sheza Gypsy and the mare won in a thrilling finish which saw the first five horses cross the line within a length of each another.

“This is a life-changing thing for me and it was pretty special,” Byers said.

“It would be the biggest win of my career [Country Final], especially on a day like that.”

Byers admitted that even he doubted his horse’s ability to win midway through the race.

“She had to do it the hard way. She was flat to the boards at the 600 metres, chasing the favourites, and I didn’t think she’d keep going but she did,” he said.

Port Macquarie local Marc Quinn was the other lucky trainer to book a ticket to The Championships Country Series Final on April 4, after his four-year-old Explosive Scene snuck under the radar of punters to finish second.

“The horse is flying and even though he was $21 I told my owners that he could qualify,” Quinn said.

“This is a huge thrill for me and it’s going to be great to go to Randwick for the final.”

Port Macquarie’s Country Championships Series race day was highly successful with Racing NSW Chief Executive Peter V’landys extremely pleased with the outcome of the Mid-North Coast meeting.

“Obviously betting turnover is a vital performance indicator for the Country Championships Series and wagering on NSW TAB for Port Macquarie increased by more than 38 per cent on last year,” Mr V’landys said.

“Turnover with corporate bookmakers jumped by 76 per cent and with interstate TABs up by 36 per cent compared to the equivalent meeting in 2014, the figures show this concept is being embraced by the punters as well as our participants.”