Trainers battle for top spot at Ballina
LEADING Northern Rivers trainers Stephen Lee and Matt Dunn will continue their premiership battle at Ballina today.
On his home track Lee will have five runners while Murwillumbah-based Dunn has nine.
Dunn leads the way in the Northern Rivers trainers' premiership with 23.5 wins this season followed by Lee on 20, Kris Lees on 14, Daniel Bowen and John Shelton, both on 11.
Lee edged closer to Dunn when he won at Grafton on Friday with Beach Baby.
At Ballina today he will start Call Me Ready (Race 1), Luv Our Stratum and Luvyoulongtime (Race 2), last- start winner Terrorfilo (Race 4) and Go Daddy Go (Race 6).
Dunn has Bling 'N' Bubbles (Race 2), Little Bit Of Suzy (Race 3), Maglev (Race 4), Cinnamon Missile and Keirabella (Race 5), Wallander and Ten Taubada's (Race 6) and Hayburner and William (Race 7).
Hayburner is coming off a last-start win at Ballina.
The two leading trainers will clash in four of the seven races including The Northern Star Fillies and Mares Maiden Plate (1300m).
Dunn starts Bling 'N' Bubbles with Robbie Fradd jumping the filly from barrier seven.
Her last two starts have been at Ballina where she finished fourth to Dorset Coast and second to Lee's Beach Baby, which won again at Grafton on Friday.
Beach Baby's stablemates, Luv Our Stratum and Luvyoulongtime, will tackle Bling 'N' Bubbles, Ryan Plumb riding Luv Our Stratum (barrier 5) and Ryan Maloney aboard Luvyoulongtime (barrier 9).
"They both have some good chances,” Ballina Jockey Club secretary-manager Matt Bertram said.
"Hopefully we can get a few local winners.”
By local he meant the likes of Lee, Dunn, Ballina's Steve Phelps and Terry McCarthy and Lismore's Daniel Bowen as they continue to compete against all the Queenslander "raiders”.
He's also delighted to have a "strong meeting”.
"It's the third Northern Rivers meeting in six days,” he said.
"We had Lismore last week and Grafton on Friday.
"We've done well to hold up.”
The Fillies and Mares Maiden Plate (1305m) could be a "local” event with not only Dunn and Lee providing three runners between them but also starters from Lismore trainer Owen Glue (Violet Jane), Casino's Stephen Bennett (Sharp Wit) and Ballina's Terry McCarthy (Maquina Voladora) and Steven Phelps (Schill Rock You).
The Class 2 Hcp (1005m) also has plenty of Northern Rivers trainers involved with Grafton's Jason Reilly (That's Madness) and John Shelton (Tobasco) represented along with Bowen (Zimzala), Dunn (Little Bit Of Suzy) and Phelps (My Cousin Steve).
My Cousin Steve is a terrific chance, Bertram believes.
"Steve also has Kitteau backing up,” Bertram said.
"He was a good winner here (on February 4) first up and can win again.”
Dunn's Keirabella (Class 1 1255m) is another good chance, with the three-year-old filly coming out of Brisbane Saturday class to race today.
Apprentice Emily Atkinson's 4kg claim with Wallander could also be decisive in the Benchmark 66 Hcp (1305m).
Wallander will carry 57kg while Robbie Fradd will ride Ten Tabauda's when they line up against Kitteau, which will jumps from barrier one.
Kitteau will lump around 61.5kg while Leo Clapham's She Tells Lies has 61kg and goes from barrier eight with Olivia Pickering claiming 2kg.
The next Northern Rivers meeting will be at Coffs Harbour on Sunday followed by another meeting at Ballina on Thursday, February 28.