THE CUP IS ON!
By ADAM HICKS
LISMORE, get your red light flashing and a starter on the button, your Cup is racing!
Management of the Lismore Turf Club have cleared more hurdles than an average steeplechase to get approval to hold the Lismore Cup on December 1 a Saturday.
Club secretary Michael Timbrell said the Cup barely got the go-ahead after a week of intense lobbying to Racing NSW.
"It's a win for us," he said. "Earlier in the week we didn't have a Cup. It looked like it was off.
"We had to lobby very hard with Racing NSW." The Turf Club had to fight to get TAB status for the meet, greater prizemoney and a seven-race card.
The Lismore Cup's September meeting was abandoned after equine influenza brought the State's racing industry to a halt.
The cancellation of the $50,000 race was the second-highest prizemoney country meeting lost during the crisis.
Racing NSW had previously given approval for an open race meeting on December 1, but with no TAB coverage it would have been a five-race card and minimal prizemoney for the feature event.
Earlier this week, Ballina announced its Cup was on and Lismore looked like being left in the barriers.
"To offer $5000 for a Cup would have shown contempt to previous winners," Timbrell said.
"Basically we said 'How can you tell the people of Lismore they can't have a cup when 30km away at Ballina, their neighbours are jumping up and down saying 'Thank you'?"
Race distance and prizemoney are still to be finalised but it is expected to be run over a reduced 1516m, with prizemoney of at least $20,000.
It will be the first time the Lismore Cup has been held on a Saturday.
The meeting will feature full Sky Channel coverage and coincide with the first race meeting in Sydney since the EI shutdown. "Bring it on!" Timbrell said.
"The eyes of the country will be on NSW, watching the return of racing at Randwick.
"It could be a platform to show Australian punters what a good Cup we can put on."
Although the Saturday running and late notice is expected to draw smaller crowds, organisers want locals to get behind the event.
"We wanted to let the people of Lismore know as early as possible so they could start planning," Timbrell said.
"Everywhere we've gone in the past two months we've had people saying 'Don't cancel the Cup'. Now we're calling for people to show their support for the club and get behind us and get out here no matter what."
Club chairman Ron Marriott said a good 2turnout 1was needed to justify the show of support from Racing NSW.
"We have to show the racing authorities that their show of faith in our Cup meeting is not misguided," he said.
"We have worked extremely hard over the past two months, in very trying circumstances, to ensure that Lismore did not miss out on the 2007 Lismore Cup.
"It is now up to the business community and citizens of Lismore to get behind this rescheduled date to justify our perseverance."