Can these Ballina horses win the prestigious Grafton Cup?
BALLINA stayers Latino Lover and I'll Miss You face big challenges when they contest the $160,000 G McMullan Grafton Cup (2350m) today.
The two country gallopers take on a metropolitan and international stayers in the Northern Rivers Racing Association's biggest and most prestigious race of the year.
Latino Lover faces a stiffer hurdle than I'll Miss You.
In 12 starts at Grafton, the Ethan Ensby-trained five-year-old gelding is yet to win there.
He was ninth to Happy Go Plucky in the recent Grafton Cup Prelude and has been rated a 100-1 chance on the NSW TAB.
It may be his last race, with Ensby considering retiring the Street Cry gelding after the race.
"We had a fair crack at it last year,” Ensby said.
"He's not going as he was last year but has been working well.
"He'll probably go for a spell and I don't know if I will bring him back. Probably retire him.”
I'll Miss You was listed as a 50-1 pop for owner trainer Julie Pratten.
The seven-year-old mare, a daughter of Teranaba, has won four times at Grafton and placed another four in 18 starts at the track.
In 57 race starts she has won nine times and earned almost $155,000 in prizemoney.
"She's a trier, a lovely horse,” Pratten said.
"She's nice to have around. Very uncomplicated (to train) and very professional.
"She likes Grafton, likes the long straight.”
Having the NRRA's leading jockey, Matt McGuren, aboard is a bonus too.
"He's won on her,” she said.
McGuren said I'll Miss You's form at Grafton is good.
"I know her last start was disappointing but it didn't go to plan,” McGuren said.
”Julie does a good job with these staying horses and this mare when she is on song she runs a great race.
"She just needs the track to dry up for a couple of days because her Heavy form is not that great. The tempo looks to be genuine and this will be a a true test.
"It will be one of the toughest races she contests but she's not the worst in it, that's for sure.”