Barrier test for Lindop

THE luck of the draw can sometimes be a gilt-edged sword. Just ask affable Coffs Harbour trainer Brett Bellamy.

Bellamy was delighted when star South Australian jockey Clare Lindop was drawn to partner the Bellamy-trained Sista Kugah in Sunday’s $50,000 Coolmore Iris Nielsen Ladies Invitation (1400m) at Ballina.

However, Bellamy’s excitement was tempered when the mare drew barrier 13 in the 14-horse field.

“We didn’t have much luck with the barrier but luck with the rider,” Bellamy mused.

“Having a good pilot in a race like this is a big start, having the best pilot is a big plus.”

Lindop, 29, the first Australian rider to compete in a Melbourne Cup and winner of the Victoria Derby aboard Rebel Raider, joins the best line up of Australasian female riders assembled since the race’s inception in 2008.

Without deriding the abilities of others engaged, Lindop, New Zealander Samantha Spratt (All Our Way), winner of the most stake money in her homeland last year, and accomplished Sydney-based Kathy O’Hara (Patties Mate), are arguably the three headline riders.

In honour of the late Iris Nielsen, who at 38 was tragically killed in a race fall at Lismore in March, 1988, the race has been keenly sought by Bellamy for the past three years.

“I’ve had a runner every year,” Bellamy said.

“We’ve been close a couple of times, a placing or two but yet to get the bikkies.

“It (the race) is a good concept and with $50,000 on offer, it’s a good race to win.”

Sista Kugah, a seven-year-old mare, the winner of five races and $53,000 prizemoney raced by long-time stable supporters Ross White and Peter Wood, comes into the event as a last start runner-up to All Again in the Glen Innes Cup (1400m) on January 9 which followed a second to Set Alight at Coffs Harbour on December 29.

The honest campaigner is the type of mare that needs luck in running.

“Luck doesn’t always come her way,” Bellamy said.

“She’s been placed in Sydney and she’s a lovely honest mare that has been consistent.

“Like most mares, when they strike a bit of form they hold it.

“Her run in the Glen Innes Cup was super.

“She came from last, got held up a bit but she was one of the few horses on the day to make ground from back in the field.

“Ballina’s probably not the ideal track for her but if they run along a bit up front she’ll be more than competitive.

“She’ll let them know she’s there.”

The Ballina Jockey Club will also announce three inaugural inductees into the club’s female Hall Of Fame on Sunday when a crowd up to 2000 is expected.

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