Pilling brothers' horses go head-to-head at Casino
BALLINA brothers Andrew and Robert Pilling go head-to-head in the $10,000 Liberty Service Station / North Coast Petroleum Woodlawn Cup (1400m) at Casino today.
Andrew Pilling runs Dream Habit while Robert Pilling has Neurum Road in a cup that can finally be run following two "scratchings”.
Lismore Turf Club was to have hosted Woodlawn Cup day last month, chief executive Scott Jones said.
"We were to run it in March and then again in April,” Jones said.
"The first one was washed out, then we were hit by the floods.
"We still have a few more weeks of cleaning up yet, though.”
The meeting today was to have been run at Lismore but the flood forced Northern Rivers stewards to move the meeting to Casino.
"They've done a great job in organising it,” Scott Jones said.
"It's great that it's going ahead at Casino with the function now at the Ballina RSL Club. We've only lost 30 out of the original 300 booked in for the cup function.”
Ballina Jockey Club is also preparing for a return to racing with a TAB meeting scheduled for Thursday, May 11, club chief executive Matt Bertram said.
"Hopefully it will be a big day,” he said. "We do expect big noms after losing all the racing up here.
"We've been able to do all the maintenance we've needed on the track.
"We were a lot luckier with the floods. The wet weather put us on the back foot a little but all the trainers are back on the track and very happy.”
All that means one of the Pilling brothers could be celebrating about 3.55pm today.
Robert's eight-year-old gelding Neurum Road jumps from barrier eight and the son of Red Dazzler has won at Casino.
He won a Benchmark 50 over 1400m there in October 2014, one of 10 career wins.
He was also sixth to Sigmund in the 2015 Casino Cup (1400m).
Dream Habit, a five-year-old gelding by Time Thief, is yet to run at Casino but has had seven wins from 42 starts for Andrew Pilling.
Ric McMahon jumps Dream Habit from barrier seven while Carla Dougherty, who claims 3kg, starts from barrier eight.
Local Casino hopes Jack Strikes Back (Stephen Bennett) and She Tells Lies (Leo Clapham) have drawn wide in 10 and 12 respectively while the Stephen Lee-trained Crichton goes from 11.
Jag Guthmann-Chester rides five-year-old gelding O'Reilly for Lee while Lismore trainer Daniel Bowen's Silento has also drawn wide in barrier 13.
Good field for Tamworth
ARMIDALE gelding Monday's Expert has drawn ideally in barrier one for owner/trainer Terry Vidler in the Tamworth Cup tomorrow.
The $100,000 Tamworth Cup (1400m) has drawn a good field with last start Gloucester Cup winner In A Wink one of the favourites.
Now trained at Muswellbrook by Justin McIntosh, the daughter of Tamworth-based stallion Ready As finished a luckless third to Chrys- olaus and Pera Pera last year.
She was trained by now retired Scone trainer Greg Bennett then for Tamworth owner/breeders Gwen and Errol Leicht.
Bennett won a stakes race with her at Scone along the way but injury has been a constant companion.
Transferred to McIntosh, she has thrived in recent weeks and returned to the winners' list at Taree to win the Gloucester Cup (1237m) at big odds.
It was her fifth win from 25 starts and took her prizemoney to $206,405.
It was McIntosh's second race win as a trainer. The 23-year-old had his first win at Gunnedah in mid-December with her little brother, In A Spring.
He's had his trainer's licence only since last August.
"I think she's a good chance in the Tamworth Cup,” McIntosh said.
"I feel she's on top of her game and been working very well. I'm very confident.”
He's excited about having her fit, healthy and happy, and about having a runner in such a big race so early in his career.
"It's a privilege to have her in my stable,” he said.
That In A Wink has the chance to win a Tamworth Cup sits well with Erin Park studmaster Steve Miller.
He has stood Ready As for the past six years at his Hallsville Stud on the Tamworth outskirts and always thought he would be the next Youthful Legs and become an outstanding "cut price” stallion.
"He was a good horse,” Steve Miller said of Ready As, himself a son of More Than Ready.
"Just didn't get enough mares.”
The days of small studs competing against the major operations in the Hunter Valley were slowly dying, Miller said.
"Hopefully we can find a home for him,” he said of a stallion for sale.
He finished a close second in the 2008 and 2009 Tamworth cups and almost won the TJ Smith at Eagle Farm and the Inglis Challenge at Scone in a career which netted five wins and $227,000 in prizemoney.
The Richmond Racing column is sponsored by the Ballina Jockey Club and the Lismore Turf Club.