SMALL TEAM: Lismore trainer Sharon Pepper.
SMALL TEAM: Lismore trainer Sharon Pepper. Marc Stapelberg

Little filly may be one to follow at Lismore

BITTY is a little filly that her owner/trainer believes might just be ready to ignite her racing career when she jumps from barrier 12 in the $10,000 Winning Post Functions Centre Class 1 Hcp (1100m) at Lismore today.

The bargain-buy daughter of Court Command has had just six starts for one win and a second.

Bitty has won $10,620 in prizemoney - not bad for a filly bought for $600 as a weanling, according to owner/trainer Sharon Pepper.

"She's done all right,” Pepper said.

"I think she's going to be a nice horse. She's still learning what it's all about.”

The trainer is based at Lismore and looking forward to a home race meeting, one of 13 for the Lismore Turf Club this season.

It's now a SKY 1 TAB meeting, with the first race at 2.03pm and the last at 5.09pm. Gates open at 11am to cater for the early races in Sydney and Melbourne.

Bitty is one to follow, not only today but also in the future.

An improving filly, she finished second in her first start then fourth in a hot maiden before she broke through at Ballina two runs back.

"She has plenty of toe,” Pepper said.

"We might just hang around the sprint distance at the moment but I think she will get 1400m to 1600m later down the track.”

Pepper said the easy and relaxed atmosphere at the Lismore track, where there are just four trainers using good facilities, makes it easy to train.

And she said that she and her fellow Lismore trainers worked in well, helping out each other working their horses.

She's also been in the business for more than 20 years.

Pepper started by "riding a bit of track work” in North Queensland then took a career change and joined the NSW Police in Sydney before returning "home” where her father, the late John Shearman, and brother Chris Shearman trained out of Ballina.

"It's lovely,” she said of training at Lismore. "Not busy, very quiet. And we're all good mates. We look out for each other and that makes it so much easier.”

Bitty is also a "family” horse.

Pepper races her with husband Mark, her daughter Kirsty Pepper and daughters-in- law Sarah Farnham and Emily Fergusson.

They have had good fun with Bitty so far, especially the daughters-in-law, who are racing a horse for the first time and have had some friendly banter with Pepper's two sons, who are in another horse.

Bitty isn't the only winner in the small team. Pepper has four in work but just Bitty and the seven-year-old Bingo Bobby racing.

"He's a marvel,” she said of Bingo Bobby.

"We bought him for $5000 and he's won $140,000 for us now, just an old marvel.”

He will race Murwillumbah on Tuesday.

Pepper is confident Bitty can impress on her home track today on a six-race TAB program where fellow Lismore trainers Chris O'Reilly (One More Tisha) and Gary Nielsen (Myambla) also have runners.

Ballina trainers Stephen Lee, Dennis Dwane, Terry McCarthy and Daniel Bowen are represented too.

Northern Rivers racing continues with a meeting at Murwillumbah on Tuesday and Grafton on Sunday, February 12, when the first of the $150,000 Country Championship heats highlights that TAB meeting.

Ballina races again on Friday, February 17.

Walcha carnival

WALCHA Jockey Club is gearing up for its two-day cup carnival next Friday and Saturday.

The $35,000 Elders Walcha Cup (1440m) is the feature event on Friday, with the major support races being the $25,000 Graziers Cup Class 2 Hcp (1000m) and the $32,000 Ron Martin Memorial Maiden (1000m).

Also on offer is a $20,000 bonus - $10,000 for the trainer and $10,000 for the owners - for a trainer able to win the Walcha Cup plus two other races with at least nine starters.

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