New cup target
By STEVE SPINKS
BALLINA and Lismore cups winner Arena Valadora headed to Port Macquarie this week to continue his spring racing cups assault.
Arena Valadora will run in the $60,000 Carlton Draught Port Macquarie Cup (2000m) tomorrow and Ballina trainer John Everson has high hopes of success.
And who could blame him after the six-year-old's form over the past month.
After the Lismore Cup on September 23, Everson was undecided as to which race the gelding would target.
He had in mind the $200,000 Craven Plate (2000m) in Sydney on October 2, the $100,000 Canberra Cup (2000m) on October 10 and the Port Macquarie Cup.
"The Craven, well the timing was not right," Everson said.
"It was too close.
"Canberra was just that little bit further to go at this stage of his career and obviously it would be a little bit harder.
"Taking that into consideration, he would have had less weight, but the meeting had a much better field.
"In his fourth run I thought Port would be that little bit easier."
Arena Valadora has been saddled with top-weight of 61kg.
However, the Ballina trainer remains optimistic.
"He has really improved considerably since his past two runs," Everson said.
"I've stripped a bit of weight off him, which I've been trying to do for a while, but in saying that he hasn't left a grain in the feed bin.
"He's only getting fitter and fitter and fitter."
Leading Brisbane jockey Glen Colless will pilot Arena Valadora at Port Macquarie after outstanding rides in Ballina and Lismore on the brown gelding.
Everson said the achievement of claiming the local cups double had finally started to sink in.
"To get a horse up to this level of racing considering that he was virtually written off in Melbourne is just a great feeling," he said.
"I firmly believe I have him up to the condition and the level he was at in Melbourne when he was performing well at Group 3 level."
Everson usually likes to wait until after the race to suggest his horse's next outing, but he thinks Arena Valadora will probably finish up his season with the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2500m) at Flemington on November 6.
Before that it is possible the six-year-old will run in the Lord Mayor's Cup at Doomben on October 23.
"All going well, he will finish up in Melbourne and then have a spell," Everson said.
A variety of New South Wales and Queensland trainers have set their sights on the Port Macquarie Cup.
Entries for the richest spring race on the North Coast have been received from Graeme Rogerson, Bryan Guy, Maryann Thexton, Neville McBurney, Tim Martin and Craig Martin.