Slipper start for local horse, but in a different Arena

By STEVE SPINKS

BALLINA-based galloper Arena Valadora, pictured, will be among the racing industry's big shots today when he contests the $100,000 Neville Sellwood Stakes (2000m) at Sydney's Rosehill Gardens.

The Sellwood Stakes is a preliminary race on the Golden Slipper card so it's a far cry from tearing up fields at Ballina or Lismore, like he did last spring in winning the Northern Rivers two major spring cups.

It's been well-documented that Ballina trainer John Everson is using the Newmarket Handicap (1400m), the Sellwood Stakes and the Japan Racing Association Plate (2000m) as warm-up events for Arena Valadora's assault on the $800,000 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) on Sydney Cup day in April.

The six-year-old has been in fine form according to Everson and has been training well while being stabled at Rosehill for the past two weeks.

But the punters do not agree.

As of late yesterday afternoon, Arena Valadora had slipped to $34 in the betting, far behind that of favourite Havana Wind ($3.50).

Ironically, Havana Wind is being ridden by another Northern Rivers connection in jockey Chris Munce, who is from Casino. Part of the reason for Arena Valadora's odds is the predicted wet track at Rosehill.

But according to Everson, the gelding is used to the wet after spending most of its racing career based in Melbourne at Flemington.

The son of Flying Spur has been treated kindly by officials and will carry 53.5kg.

See page 109 for all the latest on the Golden Slipper.



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