For many years now, as the weather has cooled, trainers have flocked to the Grafton Winter Carnival. Not in search of warmth and sunshine, but the spoils of one of the iconic country racing carnivals.
While it may not be as extensive as it once was, when TAB and Non TAB events were run in conjunction, the Carnival still attracts many interstate trainers, while many also travel from all parts of NSW to be a part of the week-long event.
Many trainers also target the Carnival’s rich Maiden event with unraced dogs, looking to unearth a star and claim the large prizemoney on offer in the prestigious Maiden.
The most notable dog to begin his career at Grafton was Brother Fox. Owned and trained by Steve Kavanagh, Brother Fox began his career as a 15-month-old dog, winning a heat of the 1984 Grafton Maiden in a slick 22.95s, scoring by 15 lengths, which led to Kavanagh knocking back a huge offer for the dog. In a roughly run affair, Brother Fox was beaten a long way into third position behind Autumn Lilly in the final but went on to become one of the stars of industry.
In 2019, after failing to break his maiden status in three starts, Darryl Thomas took La Grand Quality to Grafton for the Maiden, where he led throughout to win his heat, then did likewise to claim the $15,000 first prize in the final.