River Street hope of Ballina Cup
RIVER STREET will carry the hopes of Ballina trainer Andrew Pilling winning his first ever 'home town' cup when he lines up in the $50,000 Ballina Cup (1600m) on Thursday.
The seven-year-old gelding has been in rare form lately and followed up his win in the Casino Cup on August 16 with a close second behind another Ballina-based horse, Surety, in the Byron Bay Cup on August 30. It would mean a great deal to Pilling to win his home town cup as his grandfather, Tom Somerville, took it out in the 1950s.
“He's the home town hope,” Pilling said. “It is the first time that I've had a runner in the cup, so I'm just happy to have runner.
“Our grandfather won the cup back in 1952, so it hasn't been in the household for over half a century.”
The 46-year-old said that he had been involved with horses 'all my life' and started training at the age of 14 when he wasn't old enough to hold a licence.
“My father held the licence and my brother and I worked on it together,” he said. “He (his father) wouldn't know one end of a horse from another; he's more a car man.”
Once River Street tasted success at Casino he was always going to be set for the cup season but Pilling said his preparation for Thursday's big race hadn't been straightforward.
“If he performed well enough it was always going to be on the cards that he was going to his home cup,” Pilling said.
“His feet got a bit sore on him in the run the other day and that was a setback but he has been swimming at the pool in Ballina and the saltwater seems to be keeping him going.”
While Surety beat River Street in the Byron Bay Cup the horseshoe was on the other hoof in the Casino Cup, where Surety ran sixth.
“If you can get a nice lead at the Ballina track you are hard to beat and Surety's track form has also been pretty good,” Pilling said.
Aside from River Street, Pilling has two other runners on cup day including Lord Nediym in the Rating 77 Handicap (1300m) and Shaos in the Rating 62 Handicap (1250m).
The Ballina Jockey Club has received a healthy 179 nominations for its eight-race Ballina Cup program on Thursday.