By Tony Megahey
Journeyed discard Crystal Billy, sacked from Team Hawkes and then the Payne stable at Ballarat, has found his niche, finally paying his way for Moree’s celebrated veteran Peter Sinclair and long-time clients into a traditional Cup TAB meeting at Inverell on Saturday.
The quaintly named Bush Battler’s, D Bartlett Memorial Cup ($15,000) has certainly drawn suitable contenders, preceding the Inverell RSL ($12,000) Digger’s Cup, the region’s racing tribute to Remembrance Day.
Peter, a former leading regional jockey and three-decade trainer, produces Crystal Billy, a last start Moree winner in the Digger’s Cup and improver Bless It Be in the Bush Battler’s Cup.
“Nothing real complicated why Crystal Billy was sent out here - just wasn’t up to the level required by those big stables - but he’s found his grade out here to win a couple for us,” Peter explained.
“His owner Dominic Neate is based in Sydney, we’ve had a good bit of luck over the years. He bought out the syndicate when this gelding was with Hawkes and then Andrew Payne.”
Andrew is the son of family matriarch and racing great Patrick Payne.
“Those stables have had an association over the years and like a lot of others this gelding wasn’t up to city grade. But he started to show us enough to win out here.”
An early career Goulburn maiden win, successive fourth placings at Randwick and Kembla and a third at Geelong certainly indicated Crystal Billy could win at the regionals.
“It did - Dominic and I raced a thing called Tap A Keg a while back and he won eight races for us. This gelding is a tall strong unit.
“He’s race fit and in form, so hopefully he can keep our luck going.”
Crystal Billy carries 55kg for Kirk Matheson: “In our favour is he drops from 60kg and a strong win at home at 1600m in probably a harder race.
“The way he closed off there from a wide barrier, out to 1800m won’t be any problem.”
The Sinclair stable is represented by four-year-old mare Bless It Be in the Bush Battler’s Cup.
“She’s been a hard mare to train, can be a fierce goer and over-races. Brooke Stower was working her out really well, then she was injured.
“But when we let her slide forward, she settled a lot better. She led and only got run down late at Moree - that was easily her best run this prep so we’ll go forward again from the good gate.”
Inverell, with six TAB races, at present is assessed a good four in fine weather.