Reece (9) ridden by T. Treichel on they way to victory.
Reece (9) ridden by T. Treichel on they way to victory. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Winner likes softer going

GRAFTON trainer Gayna Williams will be praying for rain over the next few weeks after her gelding Reece won the XXXX Iris Nielsen Prelude (1310m) at Ballina yesterday.

Reece is now exempt from the ballot for the $50,000 Coolmore Iris Nielsen Ladies Invitational (1400m) at the Ballina Jockey Club on January 29.

The event is in honour of the pioneering female rider who died as a result of injuries sustained in a race fall aboard Happy Zephyr at Lismore in March 1988.

Reece was lively and sweated profusely in the parade yard before the race and his record is best on wet tracks.

"I'll have to see how he pulls up when he goes home because he's a horse that is more suited to wet tracks," Williams said.

"Sometimes he jars up on firm tracks so I'll just have to wait and see how he is in the week or so.

"It was firm for him …just cross our fingers for some rain."

The seven-year-old gelding returned a handsome $22 to punters in the 13-horse field in the Benchmark 65 event.

"I was a little bit concerned about him today because he was second up (from a spell) and he's been out of it (racing) for so long," Williams told Sky's Gary Kliese.

"It is really humid but he has been sweating pretty much all day, which has been a concern for me."

Reece has been in Williams' paddock at Casino and returned from an extended spell on New Year's Day at Port Macquarie, where he ran second to Tivoli Beau over 1112m.

His last race before the spell was on Anzac Day in 2009, a second to Colour City over 1400m at Bathurst.

"He is a horse that is a day-to-day proposition and if he trains on well enough I'll be in there for sure," Williams said of the Coolmore Iris Nielsen Ladies Invitational, which is restricted to women jockeys.

Leading female hoops from Australia, New Zealand and the United States have accepted invitations to the prestigious event where five of their number will be inducted into Ballina Jockey Club's Hall of Fame.

Special guest on the day will be Julie Krone, a retired American jockey, who in 1993 became the first female jockey to win a Triple Crown race when she captured the Belmont Stakes aboard Colonial Affair.

Seven years later Krone became the first woman inducted into the US National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

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