LOCAL trainer John Everson, with just two horses on his books, could turn back the hands of time in Thursday's $65,000 Slipway Hotel Ballina Showcase Cup (1600m).
Everson, 76, will be represented by the well-performed Al Shameel who will be making his first appearance in New South Wales, having previously been trained by Patrick Payne in Victoria.
"The horse is owned by Ian and Di McCauley from Kilcoy and I've had horses with them before and won the Ballina and Lismore Cups with Arena Valadora (2004),” Everson explained.
"I only have two horses in work as I had to retire a few years back due to illness. But I'm now back on track and training a couple of horses gives me something to do.
"My daughter Sue Logan is a tremendous help and lends a hand with trackwork and she's excellent with horses - she doesn't leave a stone unturned.”
Everson said Al Shameel finished second in the Hobart Guineas and third in the Tasmanian Derby last year and has been racing well in benchmark 65 events in Victoria.
"He's had a few little issues and was getting fired up early and not finishing his races off. Since I've had him up here I've changed his program, giving him long steady work and he seems to be a different horse.
"He has been working extremely well and will be going into the Ballina Cup nice and fresh. He'll have plenty in the tank but may just be looking for a rest at the 100m as he hasn't raced since May. But in saying that, his racing pattern is to either lead or be on the pace.
"Should he get his own way in front he will be hard to run down. He's a big lump of a horse and very powerful.”
Everson said he had spoken with jockey Jason Taylor a couple of weeks back and said the rider is keen to partner Al Shameel in the Cup.
In-form Lismore-trained mare Anne Bonny will also be competing in the Ballina Cup, having won her past three outings including a last start Murwillumbah Cup victory.
Thursday's Slipway Hotel Ballina Cup (1600m) is not only worth $65,000 but the seven support races will also dispense $215,000 in prizemoney as well.
While the Cup has 24 nominations from all over the region, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Sydney the Newmarket also promises an exciting race with Ballina trainer Stephen Lee possessing a strong hand. He has three Newmarket nominees, last year's winner Hydrazine, Profiler and Voltaire Lumiere.
All the Cup action starts tomorrow night at the Slipway Hotel, Ballina, with a Cup Calcutta at 6pm.