RIGHT: Strapper Leah Kilner with Charlee Bear, which is racing at Ballina today.
RIGHT: Strapper Leah Kilner with Charlee Bear, which is racing at Ballina today. Adam Hourigan

Smarter than the average bear

BARGAIN filly Charlee Bear has already proved to be a shrewd investment and Grafton trainer Greg Kilner thinks she can add to her excellent record when she resumes at the Ballina TAB race meeting today.

By Choisir out of the unraced Lucky Owners mare Baby Angel, Charlee Bear was bought for just $4000 at the 2015 Magic Millions sale.

She quickly proved a winner on Northern Rivers tracks, winning five races from six starts in her two-year-old season.

Overall, the filly has won five of eight starts and collected $70,000 in prizemoney.

She resumes in the Benchmark 60 Hcp (1000m) and apprentice Nori Masuda, who claims 1.5kg, takes the ride.

Charlee Bear is proof bargains can be picked up at the major yearling sales if you are in the right place at the right time.

"I went out to the Magic Millions sale on the Sunday morning with a mate," Kilner said.

"While he went for a coffee, this Choisir filly came into the ring - I think she was the fifth or sixth lot of the morning.

"I liked the look of her but thought she'd go for between $20,000 and $30,000.

"There was only one other bloke sitting in the stand and the auctioneer had to start off at $1000 before he got a bid.

"I put my hand up and got her for $4000 - I couldn't believe it."

Charlee Bear showed ability from the start and on the strength of two barrier trial wins was sent out the $1.30 favourite when she made a winning debut at Murwillumbah in December 2015.

She then reeled off three straight wins at Grafton before her first defeat, a 2.6-length fourth to Spot The Diff at Doomben in April last year.

Charlee Bear then won at Kempsey to finish her two-year-old season with five wins from six starts.

She opened her three-year-old season with a second to Love A Rose at Doomben in August but was spelled after her next start at the same track later in the month when unplaced behind Ringo's A Rockstar over 1110m.

Charlee Bear trialled recently at Ballina, finishing second, and Kilner had considered giving her another trial before she resumed.

"I was pleased with her Ballina trial but now wish I'd given her another trial at Coffs Harbour - she might be shade underdone for a first-up run," he said.

"But I think she'll run very well over the 1000m and the race against more seasoned horses will give me a guide to where she's at as so far she's only won two-year-old races."

Kilner may then consider another Brisbane start for the filly or even a crack at the Queen Of The North at Port Macquarie on February 3.


The second race today is named the Farewell Graeme Birney Maiden Plate in honour of the Ballina jockey-turned- trainer, who is retiring from the training ranks.

Birney and his wife Sue have been a successful team on the Northern Rivers for many years.

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