Northern Rivers trainers heat up winter races at Ballina
LUCAP caused a boilover when he upset stablemate and favourite Amirykal to win the final race at Ballina today.
The Daniel Bowen-trained gelding, a four-year-old son of Poet’s Voice, surged past leader Canford Springs to beat the John Shelton-trained mare with race favourite Amirykal a close up third.
Bowen prepares both Lucap and Amirykal at his Lismore base and told Sky Thoroughbred Central’s Priscilla Looker before the race he thought Amirykal a good chance but had respect for the Matt Dunn horse (Stuck With You) and Lucap as well.
“Lucap loves this track and conditions,” he said of a gelding who had won two of his three Ballina starts and finished second in the other.
He had also won on the Heavy.
“He just loves the track,” he said after the win.
He also said before the race Amirykal would “go to the paddock, win lose or draw”.
Nothing changed after the race.
“She’s a good horse and will go to the paddock now,” he said.
The 60kg she carried also anchored her in the straight when she angled to come off Canford Springs back. While she couldn’t sprint in the conditions and with the big impost her stablemate, who carried 3.5kg less, could.
The win was Bowen’s 14th in the NRRA this season leaving him eighth on the NRRA trainer’s premiership behind runaway leader Matt Dunn (60) but just six wins behind equal second=placed Kris Lees, Steven Lee, Toby and Trent Edmonds and Dwayne Schmidt.
Noriyuki Masuda’s winning ride aboard Lucap was his 19th for the NRRA season and left him 10th in the jockey’s premiership behind Matthew McGuren (58).
Surf Sonic wins Gold Maiden Plate
FLEUR Blanch might have a handy galloper on her hands after the Grafton trainer cheered home Surf Sonic to a strong win in today’s $22,000 XXXX Gold Maiden Plate (1250m) at Ballina.
Tegan Harrison looked like she might have her third winner of the day wrapped up when she led with the Marcus Wilson-trained Add Me Some.
They kicked solidly in the straight but held off all bar the Blanch-trained Surf Sonic.
The three-year-old gelding son of Nicconi burst from the ruck to claim his Queensland opponent in the final 100m and notch his maiden win at start number five.
He was also having his first run for Blanch after transferring from the David Fromberg stable and a last start fifth at Narromine.
Blanch is excited about his immediate future.
“He’s done extremely well at home,” the Grafton trainer said.
“I just wasn’t sure about him on a heavy track.”
Her gelding surfed through the going well to suggest there is plenty of improvement in him.
“I think there are more wins in store,” Blanch said.
“He’s still learning, still very raw.”
Adding blinkers today also “switched him on” she said.
Phelps double delight
Earlier, Steve Phelps celebrated again today when the Ballina trainer, “fresh” from a Gary Kliese birthday party the night before, snared a winning double on his home track.
Phelps had won the second race of the day with My Cousin Steve and then added the second leg when My Cousin James led all the way to win the $22,000 Iron Jack Maiden Handicap (1000m).
While My Cousin Steve clocked 62.3secs in winning his 1000m scamper My Cousin James clocked 63.2secs to win his maiden.
While the former was having his 24th race start the latter was on debut, after a five length barrier trial win on June 8.
“He’s a nice little horse,” Steve Phelps said of the three-year-old gelding son of One Lickety Split.
He might look at one more start this preparation before turning him out and that could be at Ballina again in nine days time.
While Phelps was bagging a double Tegan Harrison also snared a double of her own inside the first three races at Ballina.
She had ridden My Cousin Steve for Phelps but jumped aboard Sandy Toes to win the $22,000 Maiden Plate (1590m) for Bundall trainer John Wilson.
A four-year-old daughter of Bullet Train Sandy Toes was having her 15th start the former Victorian mare breaking through after a last start fourth at Toowoomba.
My Cousin Steve returned to his best on his home Ballina track today after a last start “shocker”.
The Phelps-trained gelding son of Hidden Dragon had finished 10th at Lismore at his most recent outing, fading out of contention behind Pipe Dream Lass over 1005m.
That was back on March.
Phelps was nonplussed by that effort and forced to trial the gelding at Casino.
“He ran a shocker,” Phelps told Sky Thoroughbred Central.
“Had a bit of problem at Lismore, had to retrial.”
That also meant “freshening” the five-year-old and that worked perfectly.
“We didn’t want to lead,” Phelps said of a race where jockey Tegan Harrison was able to sit outside race leader Tobasco and then take over in the straight.
Back at home My Cousin Steve ran home strongly to beat Steve Lee’s Be Watchful.
Earlier, Gold Coast filly Sukoshi snared a second race win when she powered home for a good win in the $22,000 Slipway Hotel Class 1 Handicap (1000m).
The daughter of Magnus was having her 10th start and showed her trainer, Kelly Purdy, she might have a few more wins in her as well.
“There’s not much of her,” she said of a filly less than 15 hands high “but she’s tough”.
“She carried weight (58kg) today and will be even better when she drops weight. I think she can go and win more.”