Far North Coast hosts summer sport

THOUSANDS of holidaymakers will flock to the Far North Coast for Christmas but once the formalities are out of the way, the summer for many will be all about sport.

Budding champions will emerge and the local economy will be boosted beginning with a bumper Boxing Day when the region hosts the popular Ballina Boxing Day race meeting and Lismore Speedway’s 2010 Mr Modified Championship.

The sporting action continues to heat up with Summerland Series bowls tournaments from next week and rolls into January with the Ballina New Year Open tennis tournament and the annual junior cricket carnivals.

After the Boxing Day meeting, Ballina Jockey Club stays festive with its Newrybar Cup meeting on New Year’s Day and Family Day on January 16 before hosting what promises to be one of Northern Rivers racing’s biggest events on January 24.

The Coolmore Iris Nielsen Ladies Invitational race day has been boosted by a big increase in prizemoney for the main event – now a $50,000 open handicap over 1400m – and the arrival of the people’s champ, Takeover Target.

Joe Janiak will bring his star sprinter to Ballina as part of a farewell tour, which will give country racegoers a final glimpse of the eight-time Group One winner before he is retired to the Living Legends property outside Melbourne.

A summer of hot speedway action ignites with a clash of champions at Lismore Speedway on Boxing Day.

The feature event pits Australian champion Peter Britten against Lismore local and former national champion Mark Robinson in a twin 25-lap main event.

Then, just as the dust settles on New Year’s Day, the dirt will be torn up again as the Speedcar Super Series hits town for 2010.

Drivers from as far afield as Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne will take up the running on January 9 – with a demolition derby also on the bill – before the NSW Formula 500 Series meet on January 16 and the two-day V8 Dirt Modified Masters from January 23.

A big month of speedway racing concludes with an Australia Day fireworks spectacular on January 24.

If the flying gravel isn’t of preference, then perhaps the bowling green is.

The 1990 Commonwealth Games singles gold medallist, Ian Schuback, headlines a long list of international performers at the Ballina Bowling Club’s Summerland Series.

The Summerland Pairs tournament will run from December 27 to December 29, then the singles rolls out on January 2 with the finals on January 4.

NSW singles champ Michael Anderson and NSW junior bowler of the year Aaron Teys are also among the entrants for the competition which has had to extend its qualifying schedule after being inundated with entries.

Next door, semi-professional tennis players will converge to fight for the Ballina New Year Open tennis title from January 7 to January 10 (see report below).

The tournament usually attracts world-ranked players and is growing every year. Organisers again expect an increase on the 187 entrants who took part in 2009.

Far from professional but with loads of potential, potential future stars of Australian cricket will converge on Lismore and Ballina for the annual under-12 and under-13 carnivals.

The tournaments are a traditional hot-spot for identifying talent with Phillip Hughes the latest graduate to don the baggy green.

Play is from January 4 to 9 and the carnivals attract entries from representative teams from as far as Toowoomba and Wollongong.

Lismore and Far North Coast teams will play in the under-12 carnival, while Lismore and Ballina will fly the flag in the under-13s.

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