Ballina trainer Andrew Pilling with eight-year-old River Street, which will run in the Men of League Cup at Ballina today.
Ballina trainer Andrew Pilling with eight-year-old River Street, which will run in the Men of League Cup at Ballina today. David Nielsen

River Street running

RACING: The Men Of League are back on the track with their annual race day at Ballina today.

With $9000 worth of prize money up for grabs, including $6300 for first place, Ballina trainers Danny Bowen and Andrew Pilling are hoping to take out top spot in the Conange and Associates Men Of League Cup (1410m), the final race on the eight-race card today.

Pilling has Ballina local River Street in the race, already the winner of the Casino and Bangalow cups and second-placed in the Byron Bay Cup.

“He’s sort of well enough,” Pilling said.

“He’s had a fair campaign but I expect him to be very competitive.”

With a well-earned break on the cards for the horse, Pilling said the Men Of League race could be his last run for a while.

“It’d be nice to see him win,” he said.

“I’d like him to go out on a winning note then have a well-deserved break.”

Despite his ‘legs getting a bit weary’, Pilling said River Street was still a strong contender.

“There’s no reason why he won’t be in the finish but I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t acquit himself,” he said.

“They’re all very competitive but he should fight out the finish if he puts his best foot forward.”

Bowen has increased his chances with two horses in the main cup race, Special Voyage and Cedar Manor.

“The more the merrier,” he said.

“Special Voyage likes a dry track, and Cedar Manor is better on a wet track. It’ll be good to win the Men of League because I’m a mad Parramatta fan.”

However with the hot, dry weather lately it seems Special Voyage is headed for success at the Ballina Jockey Club.

“In his past two runs he has been back to his normal self so he should run well,” Bowen said.

“He won his last start and got second the start before.”

However, despite his excellent form Special Voyage is yet to win at Ballina.

“He hasn’t won here yet but he has placed,” Bowen said.

“It depends on the way the race is run but good horses can win on any track and he’s a pretty good horse.”

While the rest of the field will be a challenge, Bowen is confident in the abilities of Special Voyage.

“It’s hard to win a race anywhere, but whatever beats him will win the race,” he said.

Bowen said he hasn’t been doing any special preparations for the event.

“I’m just waiting for it to come round,” he said.

“You can’t set out to specifically win one race because you need more than one winner to stay afloat here. Everyone had their gallop this week, so there should be no excuses.”

Without being cocky, Bowen said he did stand a good chance of winning the main cup race.

“I definitely stand a good chance, you’ve got to be positive,” he said.

“We’ll try and win it for the locals.”

But even if his horses aren’t cup winners, Bowen is still looking forward to catching up with his heroes.

“It’s good to see the old footballers,” he said.

“It’s good for the races; you can’t beat old footballers with their stories.”



"Someone could have been injured or killed"

premium_icon "Someone could have been injured or killed"

An RFS crew sheltered in their truck as the grass fire overcame them

How this Ballina mum juggles kids and a thriving business

premium_icon How this Ballina mum juggles kids and a thriving business

"Kids are amazing but... having a passion is fulfilling as well”

Local Partners