Places in series final at stake

One race left. Lots of spots open.

The final heat in the Otago Daily Times Southern Mile series is at Riccarton today.

Race 10, the last on the card at the Canterbury Jockey Club meeting, is set to go at 5.16pm when 19 horses will chase the last opportunity to earn points towards a spot in the $200,000 final at Wingatui on March 2.

Among the starters is Jamie Bullard-trained mare Nortibutnice, who was fourth in a Southern Mile heat at Wingatui on Boxing Day and fourth in the heat at Riccarton on January 27.

Nortibutnice is tied for 11th in the series standings on 13 points.

Another familiar face is Namibia Miss, who was second last time out at Riccarton and sixth at Wingatui and ran eighth in the Southern Mile final a year ago.

Charbano, on the bubble at 17th in the standings, is fresh off his win in the last Riccarton heat.

Waiting back in the South is series leader The Grey Goose, four points clear at the top of the standings after a win, a third and a fifth in the series.

The Southern Mile series, in its third year, features 10 heats conducted by six clubs at four South Island tracks.

The final, with its stakes boosted to $200,000 following the TAB’s partnership with Entain, will be the richest race in Otago history — at least until the White Robe Lodge feature leaps to $220,000 next year.

To date, the series has attracted 118 starters from 83 individual horses for an average of 13.11 runners each race.

The final, a 1600m 82 rating handicap, has a limit of 14 starters.

Twenty horses, based on points earned over the 10 heats, will make the initial field. Six of those will be on the ballot list in the event of scratchings.

The first three finishers in the final will be exempt from the ballot for a new $350,000 South Island race to be run at Riccarton in April.