TWO horses that were originally headed for today's XXXX Gold Lismore Cup will instead start in the Workers Club Rousillon Hcp (1516m), the time honoured co-feature.
The trainers of Abu Ben Adam and Steve's Surprise had both pencilled in the cup in their original plans but have opted for the shorter trip of the Rousillon.
Abu Ben Adam was an impressive winner of the cup prelude here last month after leading all the way and assuring connections of a start in the cup.
However he then ran ninth in the Ballina cup (1600m) two weeks ago after being checked and tightened for room and getting shuffled back through the field. Trainer Pat Duff decided the Rousillon was an easier option.
Four months ago Hunter Kilner thought the XXXX Gold Lismore cup might be a realistic goal for Steve's Surprise after he won the Beef Week cup at Casino.
"I think he will run the 2100 metres of the cup,” Kilner said at the time.
However he revised that opinion after Steve's Surprise ran sixth in the Ballina cup and the Lismore cup plan was thrown out the window.
"He had had enough at the end of the Ballina cup so I decided to bring him back in distance for the Rousillon and he loves the Lismore track,” Kilner said.
Steve's Surprise, raced by Kilner's brother and a syndicate from Bangalow, is unbeaten in two starts on the track, one over 1200 metres and the other over 1300 metres. However the 1516 metres should not pose any problems.
Two starts back he ran third in the Sawtell cup over 1515 metres at Coffs Harbour, beaten one and three quarter lengths behind Single Spirit, a horse that has won eight country cups.
Steve's Surprise is one of two runners the Grafton based Kilner will have in the Rousillon.
He will also start Splinter which made up good ground when ninth in the Ballina Newmarket.