By Mark Brassel
A prediction made three years ago may come to fruition in Thursday’s $60,000 XXXX Gold Lismore Cup (1600m).
“Let’s see if this guy’s crystal ball works!” declared 69yo Casino trainer, John Hughes, who has set his mare Chantilly Chateau for the Cup.
Hughes is referring to Kevin Randall, a fellow Casino trainer that also breaks in horses and worked with Chantilly Chateau as a two-year-old.
“We bought the horse off Gerry Harvey at a Magic Millions sale before Kevin started work with her. Kevin said she is a very nice horse and back then predicted she would win the Lismore Cup as a five-year-old – I certainly hope he’s right!”
Chantilly Chateau has been racing well in the Northern Rivers region without much luck. The mare led and fought on gamely when edged out in a photo finish at Casino (1900m) before interfered with when third at Murwillumbah (2020m).
Last start she was seventh at Ballina (1900m) on Cup day nine days ago: “She hasn’t had the best of luck recently and last time out she copped it approaching the turn but to her credit got going again.
“I can tell you she has been working well since and eats everything so she’s a happy horse. I’ve had her on this new feed and she doesn’t leave a thing; that’s a great sign heading in to the Cup.”
Chantilly Chateau has some local knowledge having won at Lismore (1516m) on a heavy track back in May: “She actually handles all types of surfaces.” Belinda Hodder has partnered Chantilly Chateau at her past two runs and will again take the mount.
Hughes will also start Bon Leanga in either the 1200m or 1400m maiden at Lismore: “She is a five-year-old but has only had the six starts,” he said. “We bought her in Toowoomba and she was a bit ratty early but is starting to come good.
“We have put blinkers on her and tried a few different things and she’s run some nice races. We tried her over 1530m at Murwillumbah in a class two race but she was out of her grade yet ran OK. We’ll drop her back in distance and see what she does on Thursday.”
Hughes has been training horses for around 24 years and had previously prepared Standardbreds in harness racing: “I had three uncles in harness racing and eventually decided to head into the thoroughbreds.”
Thursday’s Lismore Cup meeting is a Racing NSW Country Showcase program with all races carrying a minimum $30,000 in prizemoney.