ONE of Australia's most beloved sporting events is set to thrill Tamworth during the coming days.
The Nutrien Classic will once again return to the AELEC and is set to attract riders from across Australia.
Formerly known as The Landmark Classic, the nine-day event is Australia's biggest campdraft and sale event, hosting up to 500 competitors, 300 horse handlers and 5,500 daily visitors.
Nutrien Equine's Claudia Turnbull said the name change came about because of a merger between Landmark and Ruralco Holdings under Landmark's Canadian parent company, Nutrien Ag Solutions.
"The classic is the largest event of its kind in Australia and an annual highlight for breeders, competitors and spectators," Turnball said.
"We're really excited by this year's line-up, and we're anticipating a bigger than ever turnout for what is sure to be another highly enjoyable year."
Among the showpiece events will be the Nutrien Classic Campdraft, which offers $40,000 in prize money, while the winner of the Martins Stock Haulage Open Campdraft will claim an $8,000 winners cheque.
Event organiser Mark Barton said this year's showcase would look a bit different due to the use of water buffalo in warm-ups to help supplement lower cattle numbers.
"We're always looking for ways to overcome the challenges of current climate conditions, and we believe that sourcing water buffalo is one way to do this," Barton said.
"Sadly, many farmers have been forced to de-stock, which means there just aren't the cattle numbers available for event use.
"Given that the ongoing drought has affected our ability to get cattle in for this year's event, this is an exciting new departure that's also sure to be a crowd-pleaser."
As well as being Australia's most anticipated campdraft event, the Nutrien Classic also acts as one of biggest performance-horse sales of the year.
The 2019 sale was the third consecutive year in which sales from the auctions exceeded $7 million.
Last year's sale also boasted a clearance rate of 83 per cent and the top seller, Yaven Smooth Spin, brought in a winning bid of $230,000.
The event offers free entry, will begin at the AELEC from February 1 until February 9 and will be livestreamed via www.landmarklive.com.au