Back on track in the Northern Rivers
The wheel, as they say, has turned full circle.
In 1976, on the very day that Van Der Hum won the Melbourne Cup, I left the Northern Star to move south and write, at various times, for the Newcastle Sun, Sydney Sun, Sun-Herald and Sydney Morning Herald.
Now I am back writing a new racing column for the Star which will, in the main, focus on local racing and the people and horses which make it such an interesting and diverse sport.
Occasionally I will bring you stories from outside this area when I think they are important, amusing or quirky enough to interest you.
So tighten the girth strap, lengthen the irons a notch, put on the tea and toast and jump aboard for the ride (or read) of our lives.
End of Arena
We start the column with some sad news.
Arena Valadora, the good looking son of Flying Spur which won both the Ballina and Lismore cups last year, has broken down and will not race again.
He was pulled up midway through a race at Eagle Farm last Saturday after damaging a suspensory ligament.Trainer, John Everson, has the horse at home at his Ballina stables.
"He is bandaged and walking around and will eventually recover," Everson said.
"The owners and I are prepared to give him away provided we know he will be well looked after.
Now for the good news.
John Everson is negotiating to buy a well performed galloper from Victoria.
The horse has won or been placed in nine of its only 11 starts so it obviously has plenty of ability.And if the sale comes off Everson will target this year's Ballina cup on Thursday, September 5 and Lismore Cup on Thursday, September 22.
Next Saturday the girls and boys and staff from Southern Cross University come out to play at Lismore Turf Club's annual university race day.
This will be the sixth running of University day and it gets bigger every year with the students and staff looked after with free buses to and from the course, barbecues, refreshments, competitions between the colleges and a fashion parade.The fashion parade is a sight to behold.
Last year race wear ranged from dressing gown and slippers to tuxedos.
The highlight race will be the $5000 Southern Cross University Cup (1400m) which is also a heat of the P J Bell Championship.
Country clubs from throughout the state looks jealously at Lismore and the way the club has developed this day.There are very few Saturday meetings on any country race course in Australia that can boast a crowd the size that University day attracts.
And the flow on effect on Lismore Cup day is immeasurable.
The three Northern Rivers racing premierships are being dominated by Ballina-based personnel.
Stephen Lee, who is having an enormous season, not only leads the local trainers' premiership but is also sitting sixth on the state country premiership.
Robert Coleman leads the jockeys' premiership while Danny Peisley already appears to have the apprentices premiership parcelled up with three months of the season still to go.
Ballina Jockey Club races next on Sunday, May 22 (TAB meeting) with the $25,000 Sky Channel Gold Byron Bay Cup (1250m) the feature race.
Several leading Gold Coast and Brisbane stables are planning to target the race.