First start in NSW no barrier to win
AMAZINGLY, after 20 starts, Ballina-trained five-year-old Shuffle The Cash lines up for his first start in NSW today in the $60,000 XXXX Gold Lismore Cup (2100m).
And if 62-year-old former top Northern Rivers jockey-turned-trainer Bill Pholi is right, the gelding is headed for an auspicious home State debut.
Shuffle The Cash will be ridden by Queensland-based rider Stathi Katsidis, who scored aboard the son of former Rick Hore-Lacy trained Dash For Cash in an 1800m race at Eagle Farm two starts back on August 26.
“He'll run very well,” Pholi said confidently. “If things go in his favour he can win. He's been a model of consistency; done a real good job.”
Shuffle The Cash's exile from racing in NSW came about earlier in his career.
The gelding, out of Final Shuffle, was bred by part-owner Jack Donnelly of Alstonville, who races Shuffle The Cash with Ballina Jockey Club president Keith Morrow.
“I named Shuffle The Cash but John Shelton had him early on and he was very wayward,” Pholi said. “He was a buck jumper and they (NSW stewards) barred him after a trial. He worked with cattle on a feed lot, was given time to mature and eventually Jack gave him to me.
“I said if Kevin Simms, who was breaking in horses for Jack (Donnelly) at his property, could ride him work I'd have a go with him.
“We took him up to the Gold Coast to trial and they passed him.
“We just kept taking him back to Queensland because he was better suited up there.
“He's raced through his classes and been a good horse for us.”
Shuffle The Cash is conspicuous on a racecourse. While registered as a grey like his sire, the gelding is as white as snowflakes.
“He's been that way (white) nearly all his life,” Pholi said.
During his days as a jockey Pholi won a Lismore Cup aboard Sonar Beam in the mid-1960s.
As a trainer, That's My Mum finished third in 2004 and Northern Beam, which won the 1980 Ballina Cup, finished a luckless third in the 1980 Lismore Cup with Gavan Duffy aboard.
Pholi said Shuffle The Cash, the winner of six races, would be well suited after drawing barrier 11 for the race this afternoon.
“He's a horse that hates being boxed up on the fence,” Pholi said.
“He prefers being out in the open and needs space to wind up. He can make a good long run.
“Lismore is a spacey layout. That suits him. Stathi (Katsidis) knows the horse. He's a top rider.
“Months ago we thought if he kept improving through his classes, we'd target this race.
“We'll see what happens.”