On course with Special Voyage

By STEVE SPINKS

IT IS apt that Danny Bowen's Ballina Cup hope Special Voyage will run in the promotion-named $6000 Ballina Cup Day 15th November Open Handicap (1400m) during the closed meeting at the Ballina Jockey Club today.

After all, Bowen bought the six-year-old gelding with the idea of running him at the Ballina Cup (1600m).

However, after the Equine influenza (EI) outbreak, Bowen's purchase looked like it would be superfluous to his needs after the Ballina Cup was postponed from its running date of September 13.

Earlier this week, though, the BJC locked in November 15 as the date the Cup would run.

Despite a poor showing at the last closed meeting at Ballina on September 29, Bowen is confident his charge will be ready come Cup day.

With that in mind, today's Open Handicap becomes an extremely important hit-out for the gelding as it looms as its only race before November 15.

Bowen desperately wants to win the Cup.

"There's a lot of prestige around winning the Cup," he said. "It's harder to win than people think but it brings a lot of attention."

Bowen last tasted success in the Ballina Cup in 1993 when he guided How About to victory.

Giving the Ballina trainer more confidence in Special Voyage is the fact the gelding beat Caulfield Cup runner-up Douro Valley earlier this year in Victoria before Bowen took over as trainer.

The meeting today will again be closed to the public and the Ballina stables will receive their booster shots for EI on Saturday.

Asked if it was strange having a meeting without a crowd, Bowen chuckled:

"At least you don't have any knockers. But there are also no high-fives when you win and there are a few more phone calls when you lose with owners asking why."

Meanwhile, the Tabulam Cup, scheduled for November 10, has been abandoned due to EI.

Next year's meeting has been set down for November 8.

Organisers said the raffle, which had been conducted for this year's meeting, would still go ahead and all prizes would be honoured.



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