Coleman's big day at the races
THE major spoils remained close to home at the Ballina Boxing Day race meeting with locally trained horses taking out four of the six races and filling the placings in the feature event.
More than 4000 people turned out for one of the most popular social events on the Northern Rivers and they went home happy after a day of good weather, a few laughs and some great racing.
On their home track, Bill Pholi and Darron Coleman combined to take out the Boxing Day Cup (1610m) with In Phuket, a six-year-old mare deserving of a win after a long preparation dating right back to December 2008.
After being heavily backed with the bookies and on the tote, the even-money favourite gave punters a scare when she lobbed outside the leader and facing the breeze – totally against her usual racing pattern.
With the horse pulling for rein, Coleman let In Phuket roll to the front about 500 metres from home and when she straightened up she had plenty left in the tank, careering away to win easily by two lengths.
Coleman has ridden the horse its past four starts and was impressed with the run under strenuous circumstances.
“I was a bit concerned when there was no pace in the race,” Coleman said.
“She was pulling hard throughout the run, which had us up on the speed and it was nice to see her give a good kick after working so hard.”
Lismore trainer Owen Glue took second place with Joe Eva and the Danny Bowen trained Special Savings ran third to ensure all the spoils remained in the region.
Bowen backed up to win the sprint feature with Waterbury in the fifth race, and locals Leo Clapham (Casino) and Andrew Pilling (Ballina) also notched wins on Boxing Day.
Coleman’s daughter, Gabrielle, had her first five starts as an apprentice to Bowen, finishing second on Melfive ($8) in the Maiden Handicap (1010m) and third on Special Savings ($21) in the Boxing Day Cup.
Ballina Jockey Club secretary Sarah Wills was pleased with the crowds and the racing on what is one of the biggest days on the club calendar.
Rain forecast through the week did not arrive, which made for smooth sailing.
“The racing was great, the weather was perfect – not a drop of rain – and the crowds were excellent,” Wills said.
“It was a very young crowd and they were well behaved – really happy with the day.
“It’s nice to see a crowd having fun with mates at this time of year.”