NEXT BEST: Hard Ticker, ridden by Chris Whiteley, after finishing second in the Ballina Cup on Thursday.
NEXT BEST: Hard Ticker, ridden by Chris Whiteley, after finishing second in the Ballina Cup on Thursday. MIREILLEMERLET-SHAW

The future of the Half-day off remains shaky

THE Ballina Cup half-day public holiday debate has reared its head again and it is obvious where the mayor, Cr David Wright, stands on the issue.

A decision cannot be based on crowd numbers this year because it is obvious the move to Thursday created great interest.

Pre-sales were up dramatically and marquee bookings were double that of last year.

However, those people who decide on the day whether or not to attend the cup meeting decided not to because it was raining.

They are the casual racegoers, and the difference between a good crowd and a great crowd.

A nice day and they will go. A wet day and they will do something else.

If it had not rained we would not be having this debate and surely the council cannot take the half-day public holiday away on what amounts to inconclusive evidence.

Win worth bottling

GOLD Coast trained mare Pop A Bottle finally broke through to score her first win - after 10 previous unsuccessful attempts - when she won the XXXX Gold Three and Four Year Old Maiden for trainer Toby Edmonds.

And that is the end of her racing career.

"She is heading back to Scone to Turangga Stud to be mated with Redoute's Choice," Edmonds said.

"We have done the job and got a win with her, so now she heads home."

The beautifully bred More Than Ready mare, originally trained by Gai Waterhouse, was not going to measure up to city racing and was sent to Melanie O'Gorman, who had just set up a stable at Scone after splitting with former husband Tim Martin.

Try as she might and with the help of Robert Thompson several times she could not win a race with the mare and the decision was made to move her on to Edmonds.

She had two starts for him for a third at Doomben and a second at Ipswich before a perfect ride from Jeff Lloyd gave her the Ballina win.

Lloyd settled her in third position early, came off the fence approaching the turn and she went on to beat the Stephen Lee trained Aussie Guetta by three lengths.

Tegan's not telling


LEADING Brisbane jockey Tegan Harrison says there is secret to riding Punjab Rocket but she has no intention of sharing it with anyone else in the jockeys' room.

"I am not going to tell the young ones; I want to keep riding him," Harrison said.

Harrison landed her third win the on horse from four rides when Punjab Rocket led all the way to win the Mulchay Lawyers Benchmark 70 (1000m) to take his tally to seven wins from 40 starts.

Punjab Rocket is raced by John, Neville and Geoff Singh from Bangalow's Punjab pig stud. They also bred the horse.

The horse is by Queensland-based Easy Rocking, a noted sire of wet track winners.

Seeing is believing


THE decision by Murwillumbah trainer Stewart Campbell to remove the blinkers from Winfrey proved the right one for her owners but not necessarily for punters after she led all the way to win the Alstonville's Sesquicentenary Class 2 (1400m).

Winfrey ($15) was coming off two unplaced runs after a spell.

"She had a fall at Murwillumbah back in January with the blinkers on and it really knocked her confidence around so I sent her to the paddock," Campbell said.

"She seemed a bit lost at her two runs back with the blinkers still on and in stepping her up to 1400 metres I thought it best to take them off."

Raymond Spokes said Winfrey jumped well.

"We found ourselves in front after a while so I thought we might as well stay there and dictate to the others," Spokes said.

"She fought back really well near the line."

Paying her way


EARLIER, the Brett Bellamy trained Daiquiri Belle arrived in the last bound to win the Ballina Fair Class 2 (1000m) and give Spokes the first leg of a double.

It was the first win for the mare since January 2013 but Bellamy has no intention of retiring her.

"This might only be her second win but she rarely runs a bad race and has earned a lot of place cheques," Bellamy said.

"She is paying her way and I have too many brood mares."

The Andrew Pilling trained Concetta appeared to have the race won after kicking away at the top of the straight but Daiquiri Belle came from well back to grab her on the line.

Bouncing along


TWO months ago Graeme Birney put in place a plan to target the Collins Hume Alexander Wunsch Benchmark 60 (1900m) with After The Bounce and the plan paid off when the five-year-old, ridden by Robbie Fradd, led all the way to win.

At last year's cup meeting After The Bounce, ridden by Bobby El-Issa, led all the way to win the Class 2 (1400m).

He then went to the Lismore Cup meeting two weeks later to lead all the way and win a Class 3 (1516m).

"I have had this race in mind for him for some little time, two months," Birney said.

"He is no world beater but he can be hard to beat if he is allowed to lead.

"That was a great ride by Robbie."

Fradd said the horse had settled perfectly.

"He had time to warm up and think, and he only did any work from the 800 metres," Fradd said.

"He just kept running and had a good kick at the finish."

After The Bounce ran right away in the straight to win by three-and-three-quarter lengths from the Stephen Lee trained Camayoc.

Unfathomable run


NEVILLE Phelps won the final race at Ballina with Lillooet to give Tegan Harrison a winning treble but the trainer was still shaking his head over the failure of Diggler two-and-a-half hours earlier.

Phelps thought Diggler, a maiden winner at Doomben last month, had the Class 2 (1400m) at his mercy but the chunky-four-year old ran eighth, as the favourite.

"I am still getting over Diggler, I can't believe that happened," Phelps said as Harrison brought Lillooet back to scale.

"He is far better than that.

"He just didn't handle the wet track."

Nothing could be taken away from Lillooet's effort at her first start since February.

"She has won first-up before and she has won in the heavy," Phelps said.

The mare had a big army of supporters who cheered lustily as she returned to scale.

Either they had a big win or were well lubricated - or both.

Coming up ...


NORTHERN Rivers racing calendar:

Thursday Grafton (TAB), Thursday September 24 Lismore Cup (TAB), Saturday September 26 Bowraville Cup (TAB), Friday October 2 Grafton (TAB), Sunday October 4 Ballina (TAB), Tuesday October 13 Ballina (TAB), Monday October 19 Lismore (TAB).