From chook pen to Carlton Cup
By TONY WHITE
CANE Cutter, the horse conceived in a chook pen in Gunnedah and saved from the knackery, is poised to mow down his rivals in today's $12,000 John Carlton Cup (1200m) at Grafton.
And for part owner-trainer Luna Ivor Mellore, eight-and-a-half months pregnant, and her husband, former Quirindi trainer Adam Ivor, a win would provide a special moment as the couple are expecting their first child together in early August.
They have two children each from previous marriages who live with the couple on their Murwillumbah property.
A win for Cane Cutter, a Scott Thurlow mount, would catapult the seven-year-old into the $125,000 Black Toyota Ramornie and continue the fairy tale.
Cane Cutter cost Ivor Mellore just $300 and the gelding has now won nine races and nearly $60,000 in prizemoney.
A former jockey in Melbourne, Tasmania and Toowoomba, 40-year-old Ivor Mellore has turned the gelding into an open class sprinter, despite a series of problems which began at birth.
Cane Cutter is by little known Irish-bred stallion Access, which lived in a chook pen in Gunnedah. He would occasionally serve a couple of mares and Cane Cutter's dam, Bevken, who had slipped three times previously, finally bore a foal.
Cane Cutter was accidentally sold as a yearling, roaming from one home to another.
Ivor Mellore, who gave away riding for 10 years to raise a family, had moved to Murwillumbah and decided to look for a horse to take up training.
She initially spotted Cane Cutter in a paddock at Crystal Creek, went back a few days later to ride him before purchase, but the owners had sold the horse.
Two weeks later she was at a property on the Gold Coast that had 30 reject horses, many bound for the knackery, and amazingly found Cane Cutter in the same paddock.
She was told she was mad taking on the then four-year-old, who looked like a broken down war horse ready for the knackery.
A tendon problem, discovery the horse was a grade four roarer and required an operation, haven't stopped the talented horse woman turning Cane Cutter into a winner.
Cane Cutter has won five of his last six starts and unfortunately missed a start in the Murwillumbah Newmarket when the meeting was washed out on June 25.
"It's a pity we missed the Newmarket on our home track but you never know it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise," Ivor Mellore said. "the Ramornie has always been a pipe dream.
"I don't think tomorrow's field (John Carlton Cup) is overly strong but you always need luck to win these sort of races.
"If he wins, pulls up well and we think he's up to it, he'll go for the Ramornie. Just having a runner in that race would be fabulous."
Ivor Mellore saw no problems with Cane Cutter racing at Grafton for the first occasion today.
"The track should suit him. He's won on a lot of different tracks he's never been to before, so that shouldn't be a problem.
"The horse looks good, he's got his confidence up and is the sort of animal that misses racing.
"I think he can do really well. We've got our fingers crossed."
DAILY Examiner racing writer Tony White's tips for today's racing at Grafton.
RACE 1: Flag Party, Snip Of Kintyre, Chief's Command
RACE 2: Deejay's Girl, Crowntreno, Cola.
RACE 3: Royal Blood, Libby's Rainbow, The Duchess Chimes.
RACE 4: The Flying Cat, Norstar, That's The Scoop.
RACE 5: Love And Theft, Royal Maizcay, His Excellency.
RACE 6: Cane Cutter, Ashbury, Loup Rouge.
RACE 7: Hurtling Along, Sexyaz, Skyroller.
RACE 8: Concitare, Extra Dollars, Meteorite.
RACE 9: Public Display, Crystal Moss, Vexing.