Ferniehirst (pink, brown sleeves) gets into a battle down the Grafton with hot favourite Snitz in the Northern Rivers Country Championships Qualifier.
Ferniehirst (pink, brown sleeves) gets into a battle down the Grafton with hot favourite Snitz in the Northern Rivers Country Championships Qualifier. Bruce Thomas

Randwick weekend for Fernies

COFFS Harbour galloper Ferniehirst has booked a spot in the Country Championships Final to be run at Royal Randwick on April 7.

The Floral Dynamite mare finished second in the Country Championships qualifier run at Grafton on Sunday almost leading from start to finish, only to be run down late by odds-on favourite Snitz.

This is the second time Coffs Harbour trainer Paul Smith has qualified one of his runners for the final with Kareem's Edge finishing fourth in the big race in 2015.

Smith was thrilled with his six year-old's effort on Sunday.

"That's the first time she's ever started over 1400 and kicked clear only to get run down by a very smart one," Smith said post-race.

"We're happy to go to the final."

Coffs Harbour has a strong record in the Final with Cathleen Rode's Free Standing winning the big race last year.

Smith is confident his little mare with a big heart can produce something special at Randwick.

"There was a lot of pressure on to have her her rock hard fit but I still think she's got a lot of improvement in her," he said.