Frontrunners lead Cup field

By GRAHAME TIMBRELL TWO of country racing's best performed and most durable gallopers, Carael Boy and Precise Timing, are set to clash in the $20,000 XXXX Gold Lismore Cup (1516m) on Saturday.

They are among the 21 cup nominations drawn from throughout the Northern Rivers and mid North Coast.

Ross Stitt has already declared that Precise Timing will start in a bid to win his second successive Lismore Cup. Robert Thompson, who won on the horse last year, will ride him again this Saturday after turning down offers to ride at Randwick.

"I just wish the Cup was still 2100 metres and not 1516 metres," Stitt said.

"It is going to make it a lot harder for him but we would love to win to win a second Cup.

"He is an eight-year-old and this might be our last chance."

A win in the Cup would also ease the pain that Stitt experienced when another of his horses, Igotthelastone, broke down at Taree last Saturday.

The horse has been saved but may never race again. Carael Boy's trainer, Bob Milligan, will decide after weights are issued whether to start the horse but is leaning towards sending him north from his Taree base.

The horse broke back into the winners circle at Taree last Saturday edging him a little closer to $1 million in prizemoney.

Carael Boy's earnings now stand at $964,169 and the $13,000 first prize money for the Cup, if he won, would take him to $977,169.

A total of 176 horses have been nominated for the seven-race program, down just two on last year's eight-race cup meeting which was run in September.

That includes 33 in the $12,000 Ireland Honda Big Maiden (1200m) and 14 in the Lismore Workers Club Rousillon Hcp.

Nominations for the Rousillon have been extended to this morning and Milligan has already taken advantage of that to nominate his talented sprinter Centre Fire.

This year's Cup has had to be moved to this Saturday because of EI and at one stage it appeared Lismore might not have a cup at all. Prizemoney has had to be reduced at the insistence of Racing NSW and the distance of the Cup race brought back from 2100 metres because of the interference to training schedules.

The meeting is also restricted to horses from only two areas, again because of EI.

Despite that, Lismore Turf Club officials were upbeat about the quality of the cup and the number of horses nominated for the meeting.

"This is only two less than last year and horses from Queensland and other parts of NSW have been excluded because of EI," the club's secretary/manager, Michael Timbrell, said.

"We are headed towards a bumper day of racing. "There is every possibility the program may have to be extended from seven races to at least eight and possibly nine.

"We will wait until after acceptances are declared before we make any decisions about dividing races but funding is available from Racing NSW."

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