JUST A NECK IN IT: Ballina horse trainer Danny Bowen who has Haslington and Eastline running in the feature at Murwillumbah.
JUST A NECK IN IT: Ballina horse trainer Danny Bowen who has Haslington and Eastline running in the feature at Murwillumbah. Marc Stapelberg

Stranger danger

A QUALITY field will line up in the feature race of the Tweed River Jockey Club TAB twilight race meeting today.

But of the 14 in the field for the Pottsville Tavern Christmas Cup Benchmark 70 Handicap (1530m), none has won or been placed at Murwillumbah.

Ballina trainer Danny Bowen prepares two of only three runners that have started at the track, Eastline and Haslington.

"It's different circumstances - Haslington went around in the (Murwillumbah) Newmarket, so it's no shame to go down in that kind of race, and we'll never know how Eastline would have fared," he said, referring to his charge losing the rider on Melbourne Cup day.

"This is an easier assignment compared with some of the races they've been in.

"They'll do all right; I'm pretty confident.

They're good horses and they're hard to split. I really can't do it - even they can't do it.

"They raced against each other up at Doomben and there was a nose between them."

On that occasion last year Haslington took out a $45,000 1MW handicap, defeating Eastline by the barest of margins, aided by a 5kg pull in the weights.

Pushed on choosing the better performer, Bowen thought Haslington might just have the edge again over the stablemate despite meeting Eastline 4kg worse off compared with when they raced at Doomben.

"He'll go forward, try to lead and that'll help him," he said. "Eastline will slot in from (barrier) 10 and have the last shot, but it should suit Haslington in the end.

"There's maybe a neck between them but only because there's more of a chance of things suiting Haslington with his style."

Other fancied runners include the locally trained Originate and Volcanic Warrior.

The Class 1 and Maiden Plate (1800m) has been split into two races, extending the card to nine races with capacity fields.

The first of the day is due to jump at 1.43pm and the last at 6.50pm.



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