This time last year, Lace And Whiskey broke her maiden status in the most emphatic style at Port Lincoln. Fast forward to Sunday, and her new trainer Daniel Bowen says she is the pick of his three Ballina-bound trio.
Originally stationed with Will Clarken in Adelaide, Lace And Whiskey raced nine times in South Australia, winning twice, one at Port Lincoln, the other at Morphettville Parks.
The daughter of Hong Kong Cup winner Akeed Mofeed has started twice for Bowen and is already a winner.
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The mare came from off the pace to sweep past her rivals to win a 1015m Benchmark 58 at Grafton on September 21. On Sunday, she will contest the North Ballina Smash Repairs Benchmark 66 Handicap over the 1000m.
“She has improved off that again, she is well placed and there looks to be a bit of speed in the race,’’ Bowen said.
“Even if she is midfield, or worse, with cover somewhere, she can be in the finish again. I think she is a horse that can keep taking that next step; I am really confident with her.
“She is my pick of the day.’’
Lace And Whiskey has a future beyond the racetrack being such a well-bred mare.
Her dam, Miss O’Brien, was third in the Listed VRC Talindert Stakes and is herself a daughter of Group 3 winner, Yvonne.
Another of Bowen’s string headed from Lismore to Ballina on Sunday is Flick, who tackles the Roofing Craftsman Maiden Handicap (1300m).
A daughter of former Queensland ace Sizzling, Flick has yet to place in her 11 starts but has finished fourth twice and fifth on three occasions.
“The barrier is the concern and she will need a great ride from there,’’ Bowen said.
“But I think she is ready to put in a big performance up to 1300m off the back of two pipe-openers and she hit the line strongly last start.
“If she drew 1 to 6 or 7, I would be really confident but from 15, (Ben Looker) is just going to have to ride her for a bit of luck.’’
Bowen is represented in the feature Ballina Scaffolding Services Open Handicap (1300m) by the track specialist Lucap who has the most intriguing C.V.
That is to say that if you took out his 13 starts on a ‘Good track’, his record would read five wins and three seconds from 16 starts.
“Stats-wise he is four wins and second from five runs at Ballina but they have all been on rain affected tracks from soft to heavy,’’ Bowen said. “He has had 13 runs on a dry track and has never run a place. It’s an alarming factor when he runs on a dry track. If he can run in a place and run close to the placings in that race, then as soon as it is wet again he will win.
“His aim is the Ballina Cup in January. He is still going well and he could still run a place but the stats don’t lie.’’
Meantime, royally-bred 10-year-old Keivann has seen more of Australia than the Leyland Brothers so his float trip from Brisbane to Ballina will seem like a stroll across the road.
No one is more relieved at the easing of the COVID-related border restrictions than his devoted trained and sometimes rider Lauren Abbott.
“This horse loves going to the Northern Rivers and I thought he was going to be in for a really good prep because he won first-up at Grafton and I had a few races picked out for him but (Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk) went and shut the borders on me,’’ Abbott said.
Keivann has raced 71 times in his career trekking from one end of the country to the other.
“I was having a count up the other day,’’ Abbots said. “He did two trips to Darwin when Stephen Brown trained him at Flemington and while I have had him he’s done two trips to Townsville up and back so he’s a bit of an everywhere man.’’
Abbott is in the unique situation of not only being the Niello gelding’s trainer, she also rides him in races when circumstances demand.
“I rode him at Chinchilla a couple of times and I rode him at Doomben one day,’’ she said. “It just depends if I can’t get a jockey that suits him. He is a neurotic old fella and he has a few idiosyncrasies so if I can’t get a jockey that suits, I usually just ride him myself.
“I was going to ride him myself at the Gold Last start but I had a couple of runners at Doomben on the same day and the times didn’t work out.’’
Kievann will be ridden at Ballina by Jordan Grob who won on the horse at the Gold Coast last start beating one of Sunday’s main rivals, Nothingforthepress.
“You really need to know the horse. He can get his head up the air and it cuts off his breathing so you have really got to get someone who can get him to relax. That’s the main thing with him,’’ Abbott said.
Kievann is an incredibly well bred horse; he is in-bred to the celebrated New Zealand mare My Tricia who is the dam of five stakes winners including 1982 VRC Derby winner, Grosvenor.
Originally published as Ballina preview: Whiskey in with a shout