Changing factors prompt Reunite Ballina Cup entry

AN HOUR of soul-searching, intensive form study and a phone call from Jim Byrne's manager has convinced Cessnock trainer Jeremy Sylvester to bypass Doomben and start Reunite in tomorrow's $50,000 Slipway Hotel Ballina Cup.

A full field of 14 for the centenary cup looks a certainty, with 17 final acceptors including three emergencies, although two horses, top weight Harada Bay and the Bryan Guy-trained Platinum State, will not run.

Chris Meagher, the co-trainer of Harada Bay, said the top weight of 58kg for the cup compared to the 54 the horse has at Doomben, was the deciding factor.

Platinum State was to have been ridden by Jim Byrne, but he will now go on to Reunite.

Sylvester had originally planned to start Reunite at Doomben on Saturday, where he had drawn barrier seven in comparison to barrier 11 at Ballina.

"I wasn't sure which way to go, and hadn't declared a jockey when I got a phone call from Jim Byrne's manager to tell me that Platinum State was not running," Sylvester said.

"I also heard that Harada Bay was going to run at Doomben, and suddenly it became a very winnable race for my horse.

"So I went back through the Ballina form again, thought of the advantage of having Jim on board and decided I should head to Ballina."

One other factor also convinced Sylvester that the Ballina Cup was the better option.

Reunite is a BOBS Extra horse, and there is an additional $10,000 in prizemoney waiting for him if he wins.

This will be only the second time Reunite has started at a country meeting after winning his maiden at Goulburn in only his second start. He went on to win two more races on Sydney tracks and another at Newcastle, plus he has run another five placings, all on city tracks, in a career of only 22 starts.

His latest start, last Saturday, produced a second over 1350 metres at Doomben after coming from near last on the turn.

"It was a pretty good run," Sylvester said.

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