by Pam McKay
BARREL RACING: Alton Downs' rider Jemma Volker will compete in this weekend's ABHA Capricorn Coast Circuit Classic on Royal n Swift Chick, the horse that carried Jess Thomas to victory last year.
Thomas will not compete this year but there is set to be some red-hot competition with 33 horses in the running for the Classic.
The Classic will run alongside the Futurity and the four divisional barrel race in an action-packed program at Paradise Lagoons this weekend.
Event co-ordinator Emma Douglas said there were big nominations in each of the events, with competitors coming from Townsville through to Moree.
The Classic, which is open to horses aged four, five and six, also doubles as a qualifier for the ABHA Classic final in Tamworth later this year.
Douglas said Volker would be a serious contender, as would 2015 winner Amber Patteson who is riding her own horse Razzle Rok, as well as three horses from other owners.
Riders compete in two rounds, with the best average time determining the winner who takes home a healthy prize purse and a trophy saddle.
Twenty-six horses are entered in the Futurity for horses aged seven, eight and nine. Alton Downs' Jamie-Lee Williams on her horse TC, the Sunshine Coast's Kate Benedict on Special Savannah and Emerald's Ellysa Kenny, who is riding both Little Loc and Rebel Rock, are likely to be in the mix.
Douglas said there were 120 entries in the four divisional barrel race, which is open to horses of any age.
Action starts at 10am Saturday and continues from 9am Sunday. Entry is free for spectators.