Quality field set to run at Ballina Cup on Friday
BALLINA Jockey Club general manager Matt Bertram rates Friday's $65,000 Slipway Hotel Ballina Cup (1600m) the best field he's seen in his tenure at the club.
His opinion is backed up by facts and figures too with the 14 runners (not including the four emergencies) having won 112 races between them and earned almost $3 million in prizemoney.
Friday's outstanding field, that includes Sawtell Cup (Bodega Negra), Lismore Cup (Kuttamurra Al) and Ballina Summer Cup (Nothingforthepress) winners is headed by two outstanding gallopers in topweights Morendi and Queen Of Kingston.
Morendi has won 11 races and almost half a million in prizemoney for his Murwillumbah trainer Darren Graham.
If he can find the sort of form that won him three successive Saturday metro races in Brisbane he will take a power of beating.
He's had one run back from a spell when 9th to Tivoli Street in the recent Ballina Cup Prelude at Murwillumbah.
After drawing wide he was caught deep and travelled five wide throughout to be beaten just over six lengths.
Queen Of Kingston was even better when the Lismore mare drew wide at Coffs Harbour last Sunday before finishing powerfully for a gallant third under a big weight (63kg).
It too was a cracker of a run and her trainer believes she is a great chance of adding to the $213,985 in prizemoney she has collected for her Lismore baker Steve Butcher in eight wins and nine placings.
"It's a big ask with the weight," Lismore trainer Daniel Bowen said of Queen Of Kingston's 60.5kg.
"But she has drawn well (2), the first time she has drawn in close in a big race for a long time."
He did have the mare set for a "couple of big mile races before Christmas" but was injured in the float of her way to Brisbane for a race and had a little break.
"That cramped us a bit to get her ready for the Ballina Cup."
Apart from Morendi and Queen Of Kingston there are some talented other runners such as Queensland-trained trio Peacock, Kuttamurra Al and Bodega Negra.
The Tom Button-trained Peacock is a six-year-old gelding son of Lonhro. He has won six of his 36 starts and $381,830 in prizemoney for his Sunshine Coast trainer.
He was fifth in last Saturday's Warwick Cup.
Kuttamurra Al is chasing the Lismore Cup/Ballina Cup double after the Lindsay Hatch-trained gelding won the September 19 2100m Lismore Cup in great style.
He has won seven of his 44 starts for $16,975 in prizemoney but is yet to run at Ballina. Robbie Fradd will jump him from barrier 12 and he will have just 45kg on his back.
Bodega Negra won last year's Sawtell Cup at Coffs Harbour for Gold Coast trainer Bruce Hill.
He is truly a warhorse having had 97 starts. He's won 11 of them for $494,085 in prizemoney, the nine-year-old son of Hidden Dragon jumping from barrier three with Coffs Harbour hoop Jon Grisedale on board.
Local chances abound too with Ballina Summer Cup winner Nothingforthepress, dual Casino Cup winner Landmarks, and the Julie Pratten-trained I'll Miss You.