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Geoff Newling Reviews The Ballina Cup Meeting

By Geoff Newling

Races 1 & 2 CASINO trainer Ian Savins thought Galiano, a six-year-old gelding son of Danewin, had won today’s $30,000 Woollam Constructions Class 3 Showcase Handicap (1250m). However the hobby trainer had to settle for second despite Galiano being first past the post after the connections of second-placed Excalibrator lodged a protest alleging interference at the 1200m.Third-placed Aleena also protested against the race winner but that was dismissed while stewards upheld Excalibrator’s protest. Trained by Helen Page at the Gold Coast, four-year-old Excalibrator won the protest and grabbed the $16,630 winner’s cheque from owner/trainer Savins, who is a real estate salesman. It would have been Galiano’s third win his 30th start and he’s now won $58,700. Tegan Harrison rode Galiano and thought he would have been “run off his legs”. “He’s hard to ride,” Tegan Harrison said. “Was pulling really hard and wanted to get in quite badly. I thought he would be run off his legs so it was quite an impressive win.” Ian Savins has always had an opinion of the gelding. “You’ve got to remember he ran third in the big maiden at Grafton,” Ian Savins told Sky Thoroughbred Central’s Gary Kliese. “I knew he’d sprint well but I told Tegan just to get him plenty of running room. She did a great job. He’s won a wet track, twice and now on a dry track too. They went fast in front and that set it up for him.” A win would have completed a good week or so for Savins after Passion To Win won at Ipswich last week. Earlier the Warren Gavenlock-trained hard Merchandise had kicked off Ballina Cup day with a win in the $30,000 Ballina Fair Showcase Maiden Plate (1300m). The four-year-old gelding son of Hinchinbrook was having his fourth race start for his Coffs Harbour trainer.

Races 3 & 4 ANTOINETTE Pholi has been strapping, riding work and race riding for her father, Bill Pholi ever since she was old enough to be licensed for the various roles in the thoroughbred racing industry. Today she celebrated Siroccan Lad’s brilliant win in the $30,000 Gold Coast Titans Class 2 Showcase Handicap (1000m). Matthew McGuren rode the seven-year-old gelding son of Dubawi and was always confident. “I knew he was always going to get past them,” he said of a 2.65 length win from Motivate. A legend on the Northern Rivers Bill Pholi’s stable is now restricted to two. “He has as many in work as I am prepared to ride work,” Antoinette (better known as Annie) Pholi joked. “I’ve worked for dad for ever, been in the stable always.” She is regarded as “pa’s shadow” and filled many roles, even apprenticed to him as a rider at one stage. “This particular little horse was raced by a Sydney syndicate, long time clients of dads. But at the end of his last prep dad thought he needed a bit of time and a good spell.” His owners thought otherwise and accepted an offer from the Pholi’s to purchase him. “I bought him,” Antoinette said. “He’s not an easy horse to ride and we’ve had to work him out.” She believes they have now done so after he returned from a long spell to win at Grafton on August 21. I’m A Jet then stepped up to win the CNW Electrical Wholesale Benchmark 70 Showcase Handicap (1000m) for his Coffs Harbour stable. Trained by Mick O’Neill the six-year-old gelding son of Za-Im snared a fifth race at his 13th start. Mick O’Neill said he will probably have to look to going to the provincials, and maybe over 1100m, with his talented sprinter.

Race 5 SKYTREK finished powerfully to win today’s Alexander Wunsch Anniversary Benchmark 67 Showcase Handicap and earn a possible trip to Newcastle for next week’s Cup carnival. The Eagle Farm-trained gelding son of Not A Single Doubt collected a fifth win in 21 starts for Brisbane-based trainer Barry Lockwood. The former Tamworth and Rosehill trainer has thrived since heading to Brisbane and believes Skytrek has plenty to offer. “There’s a suitable benchmark 70 race for him at Newcastle next week,” Barry Lockwood said after today’s win. “Might as well have a crack at that.” Ric McMcMahon rode the five-year-old chestnut and admitted he thought he was in trouble at the 600m when the rest quickened and he was left flat footed. “The hardest part was pulling him up though,’ he said after Skytrek roared home. “He could have around again. Took him all day to get going and then couldn’t stop him.” Skytrek is something of a character. “We lost him one day, couldn’t find him,” Barry Lockwood. “He was in the feed room eating the carrots in the fridge.”

Race 6 PRINCE Of The Turf had to withstand a protest before claiming today’s $35,000 Furnaces @ Aquis Farm Ballina Newmarket Handicap (1250m). The John Shelton-trained gelding led much of the trip to beat favourite Apoloboom and then beat him in the stewards room as well after connections alleged the Grafton gelding had interfered their horse at the 400m. Stewards disagreed and John Shelton was able to celebrate a second win with the son of Turffontein. It was the gelding’s fifth win in 19 starts “but his second for us”, said Shelton. “Only had him five starts,” John Shelton said. “He’s been a good little horse for us.” He is now looking at a Lismore Open for the talented front-runner from an in-form stable. Prince Of The Turf was coming off a last start second to stablemate Belflyer at Grafton on August 21. Belflyer then went to Moree and won last Sunday’s $40,000 Moree Cup. John Shelton also said Ballina has never been one of his favourite tracks however his last trip north had netted a winning double and he still had Prince Of The Turf’s stablemate, Cash Spinner, to run in today’s Ballina Cup.

Race 7 BARRY Lockwood celebrated his second success in today’s $65,000 Slipway Hotel Ballina Cup (1600m) when Cashing Up charged to victory from race favourite Lordag with John Shelton’s Cash Spinner third. Cashing Up might also go around again at Doomben on Saturday, Barry Lockwood advised. The Eagle Farm-based trainer, who hails from Tamworth and who trained at Rosehill for a number of years after his move from the Country Music Capital, won his first Ballina Cup with Playing Straight. “Trained him for a group of blokes from Tamworth,” the Brisbane-based trainer said after the win. He was delighted with the win and Tegan Harrison’s ride and enjoys Ballina. “Had a bit of success here,” he said. “Also won a Bracelet here. Had some good horses win here. At this stage Cashing Up is in a Class 6 1600m at Doomben on Saturday. We’ll see how he pulls up but he had an easy run today.” Originally Cashing Up looked destined to go to Hong Kong. “He won his first couple for me and was going to Hong Kong. He had a travel injection but he lost 10 lengths. Taken me a long while to get him back.” He said Cashing Up has been a “lovely little horse but unlucky”.

Race 8 MATT Dunn may have another talented horse in his stable after Ready For Danger swept o victory in the final race on Ballina Cup day. A lightly raced four-year-old gelding son of More Than Ready Ready For Danger was having just his third race start. He had debuted with a win in a Ballina 3YO Maiden back in March then spelled before coming back to run a disappointing eighth of eight at the Gold Coast on August 12. “He just didn’t go,” Matt Dunn said of his Gold Coast return. “We were patient with him early but he’s going to improve and he will get a little further too. He’s a nice big horse.” Dunn has been one of the most prolific country trainers over the past few seasons and trained a number of Highway handicap winners in Sydney. He will be hoping to take a few of those Highway winners to Randwick on The Everest day in October for the rich $200,000 Highway Final.

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