CUP BY A NOSE: Bann Ruby, ridden by Matthew Paget, edges out Montana Hilton in the Ballina Cup last year.
CUP BY A NOSE: Bann Ruby, ridden by Matthew Paget, edges out Montana Hilton in the Ballina Cup last year.

Bann Ruby racing for Ballina Cup

GOLD COAST raider Bann Ruby will attempt to become only the fourth horse to win back-to-back Ballina Cups when he lines up today in the Ballina Jockey Club’s richest race.

Trained by former Ballina trainer Les Kelly, who now lives on the Gold Coast, Bann Ruby could become the first horse since Mack’n’Me in 1996 and 1997 to win two Ballina Cups in a row if he is first past the post.

The only other horses to achieve the feat in the 95-year history of the race were Amondale and Hymount.

Amondale won in 1969 and 1970, while Hymount claimed two in 1934 and 1936.

There was no Ballina Cup raced in 1935.

According to Kelly, Bann Ruby has been set for the $50,000 The Point Ballina Cup (1600m) today.

“He’s two runs in from a spell and we would have liked a third race but we got held up for a week,” Kelly said.

“He’s been a good horse for a fair while and to win again would be nice to do.”

However, the cup field this afternoon is one of the strongest in years with former winner Felixtrinidad,
Mackay-based Onalar, Byron Bay and Lennox Head Cup winner Surety, and Taree Cup Prelude winner
Eiremaize all rated good chances.

Two highly-rated runners, top-weight Thin and Crispy and Casino Cup winner River Street, were late scratchings yesterday.

But the biggest hurdle to Bann Ruby’s double act may come from stablemate La Zeel, a former David Hayes-trained mare.

Kelly said La Zeel was being set for the Lismore Cup in two weeks but many believe the six-year-old is in great form after two thirds and a fourth last month.

“I can’t split them, to be honest,” the Gold Coast trainer said.

“She’s won six races for me in 12 months, including three at Saturday meetings in Brisbane.”

The two Kelly runners are like chalk and cheese.

La Zeel is a smart front-runner, can last the distance and is feisty to handle. She is ideally suited to 2200m but has won over the mile (1600m) previously.

Bann Ruby sits at the back and likes to make a late move and is known to be laidback.

He has never run further than 1800m.

Top jockey Michael Cahill has the job aboard La Zeel with Dean Tanti on the defending champion.
Kelly, who lived in Ballina for five years and whose sister Sharon Cadwallader is a councillor, would love to add another Ballina Cup to his list of achievements.

“I’ve won a lot of the races around there,” he said.

“I actually won the Bracelet once and have won the Broadwater and Byron Bay cups.”

Meanwhile, should Fernleigh jockey Scott Seamer claim the Ballina Cup aboard Kyros, he will join a group of riders who have won the Ballina Cup three times.

Only two riders have claimed three victories before: Jon Hutchings in 1969, 1970 and 1977, and T Alvos in 1951, 1952 and 1955.

Seamer last won in 2000 aboard Mougi and before that in 1995 with Short Sentence.


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