Stephen Lee sets big team for Ballina Cup Day

Stephen Lee.

Northern Rivers trainer Stephen Lee will be hoping that home track advantage means something at Ballina on Friday. 

Lee, who has a big team in action, has three gallopers entered in the $65,000 Ballina Cup, with Haunted (Les Tilley, 63.5kg), Last Kiss (N/A, 56kg), and Toots Is Tops (Lani Allen, 54kg)all drawn to race, but the hometown trainer will likely only start the one in the 1590m country cup. 

“I don’t think we will run Haunted ($51) because of the weight and it shattered me when Lasting Kiss ($9.50) drew wide (gate 18),” Lee said. 

“She ran well in a bit of a lead-in race at Doomben, and I thought she was a big chance, but a lot would have to scratch for her to run, so we will have to wait until we see what comes out.”

Toots Is Tops ($26) gets in nicely with the minimum weight, while jockey Lani Allen will get every chance from gate four, and Lee believes the six-year-old is a big chance. 

“She ran a good second to Sagacious at Murwillumbah last start and she is racing well,” Lee said. 

“She is definitely starting to come good at the right time, and she run third in this race last year, and with no weight on her back, she can go alright.”

Lee, who was born and bred in Quirindi before setting up his base in Ballina, has won his adopted hometown cup twice, with Felxtrinidad winning in 2007 before Nothingforthepress won the same race for connections in 2019. 

“It’s your local cup, and even though I’m from Quirindi, I’ve been here for a long time, and it’s my hometown cup,” Lee said. 

Lee has accepted with 12 runners at Ballina on Friday, and he thinks he is in with a chance in multiple races. 

Of his chances, the Ballina trainer touched on Supidoman (Les Tilley, $5) in the 1000m Maiden Plate, Revontulet (Les Tilely, $9) in the 1300m Maiden Handicap, and Chickerartie (Les Tilley, $4.60) in the 1400m Class Two Handicap. 

“Supidoman ran a nice second to that horse (Good Girl) of Annabel Neasham’s at Ballina last start and he should improve and Revontulet and Chickerartie both look to be pretty good chances,” Lee said. 

After hosting their bumper Boxing Day program, it’s been a busy time for the Ballina Jockey Club in the lead-up to their showcase meeting, and Lee believes the course proper is in great condition. 

“It’s going really good,” Lee said. 

“We got over that wet period and the track dried out good, and the racing has been good and you can come off or lead.”

It’s a massive eight-race meeting for the Ballina Jockey Club, with their feature race also a qualifier for the $2 million Big Dance and $500,000 Little Dance

The club is hosting their Ballina Cup Calcutta at the Cherry Street Sports club on Thursday night, with festivities commencing at 7.30pm. 

On Friday, racing takes centre stage, while off track, there is over $3000 in prizes on offer in the fashions on the fields, live music, VIP marquee, giant big screen, food trucks, full TAB and bookmakers and canteen and bar facilities.

For more on the race day click here and for fields click here.