Hottest (centre, blue cap) and jockey Donald Barron charge down the straight to win The Northern Star Maiden Plate (1000m) at the Ballina races on Saturday. The four-year-old mare won by a length.
Hottest (centre, blue cap) and jockey Donald Barron charge down the straight to win The Northern Star Maiden Plate (1000m) at the Ballina races on Saturday. The four-year-old mare won by a length. JAY CRONAN

Sue's master stroke

SETTING the trend for Ballina’s celebration of ladies in racing next weekend, local conditioner Sue Birney claimed The Northern Star Family Day Cup (1250m) with Jolly Good Luck at the Ballina Jockey Club on Saturday.

Around 500 racegoers turned up for a magnificent day, with the weather perfect and the track in grand condition.

Hundreds of children attended as the club looks to broaden its support base with attractions for all ages.

Cup winner Jolly Good Luck didn’t need much; the engagement of Gold Coast jockey Donald Barron proved the master stroke with the experienced hoop booting the four-year-old entire home to complete a winning treble.

With the horse having saluted only once in a 15-start career – and that was more than a year ago – Birney was pleased he bought his best form to the track.

“The horse shows plenty in trackwork, but until now he has failed to transfer it to raceday,” Birney said.

“Hopefully we don’t have to wait another year for him to win again.”

Although she won’t have a runner in the $50,000 Iris Nielsen Memorial race on Sunday, Birney plans to play a major part in the big day.

“We will enter four or five runners for the meet, but won’t contest the feature,” she said.

“But we’re still looking forward to a great day for the girls and the club.”

Earlier in the day, apprentice Amy White completed a remarkable return to racing when she piloted Eye Seen to a narrow win for her master Bruce Swan.

White, 24, has recently returned to the track after a seven-year sabbatical to rear her now six-year-old son.

White had been apprenticed to Swan’s father Keith in Tamworth when she fell pregnant, and to add to the family element of White’s return, Eye Seen is owned by the impressive jockey’s mother.

Many might see a return to race riding after such a long break as a bridge too far, but for White it was simply a matter of time.

“My weight finally came right and I thought ‘right, it’s time to get back into it’,” White said.

“It makes it that bit more special to get the win on Mum’s horse so everyone is happy.”

Ballina trainer Danny Bowen also tasted success when apprentice Motoki Okada steered Special Savings to its second win on the trot after victory on New Year’s Day.

The win lifts Bowen to outright top spot in the BJC trainers’ premiership with seven wins, while Okada moved into equal third spot in the jockeys’ premiership behind Darron Coleman and Ben Looker with five wins.

BJC’s next meeting, the Iris Nielsen Memorial race day on Sunday, promises to be a cracker with international jockeys booked to ride.

Star sprinter Takeover Target will be paraded on the track and his trainer Joe Janiak will address the crowd.



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