Glen Innes product and Grafton-based trainer John Shelton will look to add another Inverell Cup to the mantlepiece on New Year’s Day, with Cassia Lane primed ahead of the $45,000 feature.
The veteran conditioner won the race in 2002 with Stephen Traecey riding Shelton’s old warhorse, Karate, to victory in the race worth just $12,000 at the time.
Twenty-two years later, Cassia Lane will fly the stable’s colours in the 2024 Inverell Cup, and the five-year-old brings some very good form with her.
A “Benchmark 58 specialist”, the Worthy Cause mare has started 29 times for seven wins, and her past five wins have been in Benchmark 58 Handicaps.
“She is going particularly well,” Shelton told NSW Country and Picnic Racing.
“She’s winning 58s but drops 8kg for this race. She is in a rare patch of form and will get a good run in the race. Plus, she has won on the track.
“It’s definitely the bigger rise (in class) she has had to cope with, but she will be thereabouts when the whips are cracking.”
Connections draw gate seven in the 1400m event, and young apprentice Mollie Fitzgerald will ride the in-form five-year-old after partnering with her for recent victories at Grafton on November 26 and Kempsey on December 18.
“Mollie is going great, and they get on terrific,” Shelton said.
“She just parks her where she wants to put her, and she’s not hard to ride.
“Mollie doesn’t panic on her; she is a great little rider; she won’t have a claim for long, and they’ll use her up pretty quickly.”
The Inverell Cup is one of the first Country Cups to be won in 2024, and Shelton would love to add another to his collection.
“I won it a few years ago, and it is a really good race to win,” Shelton said.
“I come from the Tablelands and love going back out there.
“I’m not knocking the horses in the race, but it’s probably not the strongest this year, and our mare will get a good crack.”
Shelton takes an in-form team to Inverell, and he’ll be looking to win the $50,000 Super Maiden (1400m) with Friar’s Destiny (Ben Looker), the Country Boosted Benchmark 58 Handicap (1050m) with Lady Tulessa (Mollie Fitzgerald), and the time-honoured Inverell Shorts (1050m) with Another Spirit (Mollie Fitzgerald).
“I’ve got four chances, and they are all good chances,” Shelton said.
“The maiden (Friar’s Destiny) will be hard to beat, and Another Spirit and Lady Tulessa are both good each-way chances.”
While it was a heavy ten at Inverell at the time of publishing, the club is confident the meeting will proceed.
On the day, racegoers will enter a competition to win two nights’ accommodation at South Pacific Plaza at the Gold Coast just by entering through the gates.
The first race jumps at 1.15 pm, and there promises to be great racing complimented by fashions on the field.
The night prior, the Inverell Cup Calcutta will be hosted by Inverell Sporties, with tickets on sale at 6 pm for the phantom call and auction at 7 pm.
For more on the Inverell race day, click here.
For fields, click here.