Cups double chance
By ADAM HICKS email@example.com FELIXTRINIDAD will join an illustrious list of gallopers if he can add the $20,000 XXXX Gold Lismore Cup (1516m) today to the silverware he won at Ballina two weeks ago.
A comparison of records from the Lismore Turf Club (which go back to 1976) and Ballina Jockey Club reveals only seven horses have managed to win the region's two biggest races in the same year.
Star Cobbler was first, collecting the double in 1977. Mack 'N' Me did it twice, in 1996 and 1997. And Arena Valadora was the last to achieve the feat in 2004.
However, Felixtrinidad faces a unique challenge. This is the first time the Lismore Cup will have been run over a shorter distance than the Ballina Cup.
"Stepping back actually makes it a bit harder," Lismore Turf Club secretary Michael Timbrell said.
"On paper it is a shorter distance but our 1516m is just as tough, if not tougher, than Ballina's 1600m.
"In Ballina they have a 600m straight out of the barrier and they don't go too fast, they're just looking for positions until they get to that 1000m bend.
"The 1516m start in Lismore is at least a 700m straight run until the sweeping home turn, which generally means they have to go fast from the start."
"They'll go flat out from the start, so it'll be an interesting race."
Felixtrindad is today's early favouritve after winning the Ballina Cup by more than a length pulling up. But trainer Stephen Lee admits the shorter distance and the addition of a few other runners will make the Lismore Cup a big ask.
"He's only a young horse with a few starts. He's only four years old and he's already winning cups," he said.
"Not having the Queensland horses makes it a lot easier but he's racing against Carael Boy, Best View and Precise Timing.
"They're tough old campaigners. "It's like playing your first couple of games in reserve grade after coming out of juniors."
Lee also said Felixtrinidad's task would be made harder by his other two runners Song Time and Lost Weekend.
"This race has evened these three horses out a lot more than what Ballina did," he said.
"There'll be pace on early because Lost Weekend will be going forward and the shorter distance will play into her hands, plus it is a leader's track.
"If you let them rock and roll a bit she'll be hard to run down with 51kg on her back.
"Felix will get a soft run in behind them but it'll suit Song Time too.
"Song Time likes to be in behind the leaders with the pace on."
But he concedes reluctantly that Felixtrinidad is the deserved favourite.
"He won easily in the Ballina Cup," Lee said.
"He will be hard to beat. He's drawn a good barrier and will be getting home well."
But is he feeling confident that Felixtrinidad can pull off the double?
"I'll never say I'm confident," he said. "I do my talking on the track."