Can 'strong field' stop Ballina horse snatching Grafton Cup?
BALLINA Cup winning Melted Moments is one of 25 nominations for Sunday's $50,000 Grafton Toyota South Grafton Quality Cup (1600m).
Clarence River Jockey Club chief executive Michael Beattie said the horse is one of a very strong race field.
"It's a very good standard of race this year," Beattie said.
"Lots and lots of local regional interest with a nice mix of interest from away as well, it looks like being a great race."
Beattie is also delighted with the 126 nominations for the seven-races.
"They are well spread over the other six races," he said.
He said local horses such as Melted Moments will be in with good chances on a track they know so well.
The David Campbell-trained eight-year-old gelding, who is heading the Northern Rivers Racing Association Horse of the Year with six wins in the NRRA this season, is at home on the spacious Grafton track.
With three of his 20 starts with another six placings at Grafton notched on his saddle, Melted Moments has been a marvellous acquisition for David Campbell since transferring from the Armidale stable of disqualified Paul Grills.
Paul's wife Angela, and three of her friends race Melted Moments, sired by Any Given Saturday with the gelding already celebrated six wins this season, two at Grafton, two at Ballina, including the Ballina Cup, and wins at Casino and Murwillumbah.
He is also something of an iron horse with 21 starts this season and earning prizemoney at almost every start.
So far he's picked up more than $111,000 this season and won on Good to Soft surfaces as well as placing in the Heavy tracks.
Ballina trainer Stephen Lee has nominated Nothingforthepress after his valiant second to Exclusive in last Sunday's John Carlton Cup (1215m) as well as the well performed Pleased.
Exclusive which is trained by Casino butcher Stephen Bennett.
Pleased Exclusive is equal second on the NRRA Horse of the Year with five NRRA wins this season and was aimed at the South Grafton Cup,
But after winning Sunday's John Carlton Cup and gaining exemption from ballot in Wednesday week's $200,000 Grafton District Services Club Ramornie Handicap (1200m) will start in that feature.
Lismore trainer Owen Glue has also nominated At Witz End for the 1600m South Grafton Cup.
The four-year-old Epaulette gelding has won six of his 23 starts and is also high up in the NRRA Horse of the Year with three wins this season.
The Leo Clapham-trained Mecum sits equal second with Exclusive on the NRRA Horse of the Year while the Stewart Campbell-trained Macchina Volante, a last start winner at Casino for Grafton trainer Stewart Campbell, will tackle next Wednesday's TURSA Grafton Guineas (1600m) and has four wins in the NRRA this season.
While the $200,000 GDSC Ramornie Handicap is the feature race on Wednesday, July 8, the $200,000 Iron Jack Grafton Cup (2350m) is the jewel in the crown of the Thursday, July 9 meeting with the Maclean Cup meeting completing the five-day carnival on Sunday, July 12.
NRRA Horse of Year rankings
Melted Moments (David Campbell, Grafton) 6, Mecum (Leo Clapham, Casino) 5, Exclusive (Stephen Bennett, Casino) 5, Macchina Volante (Stewart Campbell, Murwillumbah) 4, Ashman (Matt Dunn, Murwillumbah) 3, Lolly Dolly (Paul Smith, Coffs Harbour) 3, Vacate (Brett Dodson, Coffs Harbour) 3, At Witz End (Owen Glue, Lismore) 3, Unleash The Red (Ethan Ensby, Ballina) 3, Hurricane Max (Shane Everson, Grafton) 3, Royal Factor (Matt Dunn, Murwillumbah) 3, Hanna From Havana (Allan Kehoe, Port Macquarie) 3.