Ballina trainer Stephen Lee, who is looking north to expand his operation.
Ballina trainer Stephen Lee, who is looking north to expand his operation. The Northern Star

Lee looking north

BALLINA trainer Stephen Lee could have a satellite stable running in Brisbane within three weeks.

As regular rain continues to disrupt access to Ballina's training tracks, Lee is looking north for facilities to educate young horses and to prepare for races.

“I've looked at a set of 10 stables; we're putting the feelers out at the moment,” Lee said.

“I still have to get approval from the stewards. If they okay it and the foreman takes up the position, we'll probably go forward within the next three weeks.

“I have so many horses here and some of the young ones coming along will be city-class horses.

“I thought I'd place some up there and if you get any wet weather, you could always take some up there and get away from the wet and keep them fit.”

With 45 horses in work and more than 20 yearlings and two-year-olds on his books, Lee's move to Brisbane is the latest extension to the Ballina stable he started with just eight horses in 1997.

He has six horses starting between the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Brisbane over the weekend, and a base in Brisbane would enhance his reputation as one of the State's best country trainers.

“Nothing will change down here; there'll just be 10 less horses,” Lee said.

“It won't mean Ballina will lose its best horses.

“I have a lot of younger horses and trialling them down here is a headache. You get one trial after every meeting.

“In Brisbane they have 13 trials in a day and they have them every week. I'll base my young horses up there and a few of my class horses.”

Lee will remain in Ballina, with an experienced, but as yet unnamed foreman to run the Brisbane gig.

“When it's dry down here, it's fine,” he said.

“But you have to wait week in, week out for a trial and then you have 10 horses in a trial and sometimes you get balloted out.”

The move would also provide regular work for his star apprentice Joshua Jones, who is expected to settle in Brisbane.

“Josh will probably base himself up there most of the time,” Lee said.

“I will still be here mostly.”



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