OCTOBER PLAN FOR BALLINA CUP
By ALEX EASTON
BALLINA Cup organisers could ask for a limited permit to allow North Coast horses to run in the September 13 race or put the whole event off until October.
Ballina Jockey Club secretary-manager Steve Taylor said they were two of the options being considered if a ban on horse movements was not lifted in time for the main Cup event.
Also still being considered was a plan from Ballina Councillor Sharon Cadwallader to throw camels into the mix by running novelty camel races to fill out a limited horse race schedule.
However, Mr Taylor said the club would not begin seriously looking at any contingency plans until Monday when the racing industry will learn if the ban will be lifted.
As of yesterday afternoon, NSW had 90 confirmed cases of horse flu on 19 properties around the State and Randwick-based trainer Anthony Cummings had his stable in lock-down after one of his horses was found to be running a temperature yesterday morning.
So far, horses on the Northern Rivers appear to have been spared the flu, leaving open the possibility of running a locals-only cup if bans remain in place.
Mr Taylor, pictured, said the Jockey Club could apply for a permit to run the cup using only horses from between Coffs Harbour and the Gold Coast, which would cover most of the expected field anyway.
The other option being considered was to give the Ballina Cup name to the October 14 Lennox Cup.
However, Mr Taylor said a rescheduled Ballina Cup would not be able to carry the same level of prizemoney as the original.
The cup, as planned, would carry about $117,000 in prizemoney, while an October 14 Ballina Cup would be closer to $75,000.
He said the club had been contacted by Ballina Shire Council for feedback on whether the half-day holiday that accompanies the cup should be scrapped, but had told the council it would not know until Monday.
He was also uncertain about the ability of Cr Cadwallader's proposed camel races.
Mr Taylor said a substantial part of the benefit advertisers received for supporting the cup was through the national coverage on Sky Channel. A novelty camel race would not get the same coverage, he said.
He also needed to know if people and companies that had booked marquees would still come if the main event was a camel race.