Ballina strapper Maddison Lee with Urnfield who will be running in the Casino Cup.
Ballina strapper Maddison Lee with Urnfield who will be running in the Casino Cup. Jacklyn Wagner

Strapper hopes to lift the cup

SPRING, it's tantalisingly close, as demonstrated by the start of the horse racing season which will kick off with the Express Examiner Casino Cup to be run tomorrow.

The event will be a family affair, for both humans and horses.

Part-time strapper and Xavier Catholic College Year 12 student Maddison Lee, 17, will team with her father Stephen Lee of Stephen Lee Racing Stables to prepare their hope in the Cup, six-year-old gelding Urnfield.

On the equine front, Casino-based trainer Leo Clapham will run full brother and sister pair Yabbra and Key Barbin on the day, the former being Mr Clapham's runner in the main race.

For Maddison, strapping is a labour of love for which she became licensed at the age of 15.

Her day will start well before most race-goers, at 4.30am.

"I will get up and walk the horses, make sure they are fed and washed properly and are clean and well groomed and everything is alright, and then lead them around in the enclosure," she said of her duties on the day.

"I have worked in the stables ever since I was a little kid helping dad.

"I love working with the animals and helping dad and on race day socialising with the other strappers and enjoying a good day at the races.

"A couple of winners always do us good, too."

Maddison is confident of Urnfield's chances in the Cup, which carries total prize money of $25,000.

"He is going really well at the moment and I reckon he might do okay on the day; he always tries his hardest," she said.

But then no strapper or trainer will tell you their horse hasn't a hope in hell.

Leo Clapham reckons seven-year-old Yabbra is also in with a chance.

"He will go alright. I don't mind his chances at all really, but it is a pretty good field," he said.

"The competition will come from the top weight (Universal Belief), he is a smart horse, but he has got a bit of weight on him and this track is going to be pretty hard on Sunday if we don't get any rain, which might slow him up a bit."

Casino Racing Club president Bede Pratt is being positive there will be good weather on the day.

"We have got a full field for the whole program and the horses are coming from everywhere - from Port Macquarie to south-east Queensland," he said.

CUP FEVER

When: Tomorrow, August 12. Gates open 10.30am

Where: Casino Race Course, Grafton Rd

Program: First race 12.50pm. Casino Cup 3.45pm. Last race 4.55pm

Prize money: Casino Cup $25,000. Total prize money $132,000

Entry: Adults $10. Children under 16 free.



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