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Trainer Diverts Lismore Cup Fancy From Spelling Paddock

By Geoff Newling

He may have been heading for a spell and was a late entry but Tavion Prince ($3.30 on TAB) looks like the one to beat in Thursday’s $75,000 Lismore Workers Club Lismore Cup (2110m).

The son of Tavistock, a $425,000 yearling, was purchased by Martin for just $14,000 on-line earlier this year. He has since won a Highway Handicap at Rosehill, a Tuncurry Cup at his last start and earned almost $60,000 for his Tamworth syndicate since Martin bought him in February.

“He has more than paid his way,” Craig Martin said today as he headed to Grafton and a stopover at the John Shelton stables before heading to Lismore in the morning.

Initially, he was going to spell Tavion Prince after his sterling win at Tuncurry and he actually spent “three days in the paddock at home” Craig Martin confessed.

However, he changed his mind when he saw the Lismore Cup field was and threw in a late nomination after Cup nominations were extended until 11am Monday.

“He was in a good, green paddock (after two years of drought have been ended by good recent rain) trotted and cantered around. It probably did him more good than harm.

“He worked the well the other morning too. At this stage we’ll just take it race by race.”

Continuing the preparation could be on the cards but all that will be determined by how well he races at Lismore.

Martin will know Thursday morning too, he believes, if his horse has a spring in a step when he takes him for a morning walk out of his box at the Shelton stables before they head to Lismore.

“Hopefully he’s ready to go,” Craig added. “He’s drawn well (barrier 2) and he’s only a half kilo over the limit (55.5kg) as well. I’m pretty lucky too to have Gibbo back on.”

Andrew Gibbons won the Tuncurry Cup on Tavion Prince and knows the gelding well.

“I didn’t have a jockey early on then Gibbo said he was taking his son, Dylan, up and he could ride my horse. I think he’s got close to a full book of rides now too. He knows what Tavion Prince is capable of.”

That his son, Dylan Gibbons, is riding topweight Top Prospect ($3.20 favourite) is also ironic with the two horses close together in the market.

That will make for its own little piece of Cup drama. For Craig Martin, the Lismore Cup is an extra bonus with a lightly raced gelding who has won four of his 17 starts overall and two of his eight starts for his Tamworth trainer.

“He’s run in some good form races too,” he said. “He’ll run 24 on his ear too,” he said of 2400m but needing a good pace for him to “roll along”.

While he’s bred to win on wet tracks Craig believes a Good 4 surface at Lismore won’t be a worry. Top Prospect could also be the horse Martin fears the most.

The Kris Lees-trained gelding has topweight (63.5kg) but that is offset by Dyland Gibbons’s 3kg claim. He was narrowly beaten by Humbolt Current over 2200m at Doomben last start and jumps from barrier seven in the 11 horse Cup field.

View the final fields with full form & race replays for Lismore here

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