By Mark Brassel
Local trainer John Everson, with just two horses on his books, could turn back the hands of time in Thursday’s $65,000 Slipway Hotel Ballina Showcase Cup (1600m).
Everson, 76, will be represented by the well-performed Al Shameel who will be making his first appearance in NSW having previously been trained by Patrick Payne in Victoria.
“The horse is owned by Ian and Di Mccauley from Kilcoy and I’ve had horses with them before and won the Ballina and Lismore Cups with Arena Valadora ,” Everson explained.
“I only have two horses in work as I had to retire a few years back due to illness. But I’m now back on track and training a couple of horses gives me something to do.
“My daughter Sue Logan is a tremendous help and lends a hand with trackwork and she’s excellent with horses – she doesn’t leave a stone unturned.”
Everson said Al Shameel finished second in the Hobart Guineas and third in the Tasmanian Derby last year and has been racing well in benchmark 65 events in Victoria.
“He’s had a few little issues and was getting fired up early and not finishing his races off. Since I’ve had him up here I’ve changed his program, giving him long steady work and he seems to be a different horse.
“He has been working extremely well and will be going into the Ballina Cup nice and fresh. He’ll have plenty in the tank but may just be looking for a rest at the 100m as he hasn’t raced since May. But in saying that, his racing pattern is to either lead or be on the pace.
“Should he get his own way in front he will be hard to run down. He’s a big lump of a horse and very powerful.”
Everson said he had spoken with jockey Jason Taylor a couple of weeks back and said the rider is keen to partner Al Shameel in the Cup.
In-form Lismore-trained mare Anne Bonny will also be competing in the Ballina Cup, having won her past three outings including a last start Murwillumbah Cup victory.
Ballina Jockey Club’s Cup Day is a Racing NSW Country Showcase meeting with all races offering $30,000 minimum prizemoney.
“Slipway Hotel Ballina Cup Day promises to be a spectacular afternoon with the weather forecast to be perfect,” said BJC’s GM, Matthew Bertram.
“There will be plenty of glamour, colour and competition within the Fashions on the Field, there’s also great local cuisine, live entertainment from Fat Albert as well as bars, pop-up eateries and marquees all helping to provide an exciting atmosphere for what is our premier Showcase race meeting of the year.
“The Gold Coast Titans will be sponsoring a race on the day which is a great support for the local region that’s a very strong rugby league and sporting region and a feeder area for the Titans.
“And Aquis Farm is a major sponsor on the day and provide racing and breeding support to the local region.”