The Ark rescues trainer

SCONE trainer Bill Farrow admits to a soft spot for his hardy six-year-old The Ark.

"A year ago my wife Carolyn and I were down to four horses and honestly, we were talking about selling up and getting out of racing," Farrow said.

"But this horse just kept winning and eventually some really nice people must have decided I knew what I was doing and started getting behind us.

"Now I have a stable full of really nice horses."

The Ark, ridden by apprentice Shohei Kaya, came from last early to win the Open Hcp (1500m) at Muswellbrook last Tuesday and land his 13th win from 51 starts.

And now Farrow is considering the $45,000 South Grafton Cup (1600m) on Sunday week with the horse.

"It is a race that has been in the back of my mind for a while," Farrow said.

"He has won a Denman cup, Grafton Guineas, and two of Tamworth's feature races, a Gainsborough Hcp and Mornington Hcp. Why not try and add a South Grafton Cup to the list."

nMUSWELLBROOK'S father and son combination, Jim Gleeson and his son Stephen are getting a team of horses ready for the Grafton carnival.

And they have handy two-year-old in Top Crown which scored first up at Muswellbrook last Tuesday.

Stephen Gleeson, who trains the majority of the team, plans to target the Ten Network Two Year Old Plate (1200m) on Grafton Cup Day with the horse.

"He ran such a smart time on a dead track we have to target a race like the big Grafton two-year-old," Gleeson said.

"This horse always showed ability but was very shin sore in his first two preparations.

"We turned him for a good spell and gelded him as well and he has really put it together this time in."

Top Crown, by sprint sire Beautiful Crown, won a two year old maiden (1000m) last Tuesday in 58.90 seconds on a track rated a dead five. And the track also had a fairly long grass cover.

nTAMWORTH-based hobby trainer Ernie Vine will target the $30,000 Grafton Guineas (1600m) with bargain filly Morning Flare following her win over 1280 metres at Muswellbrook last Tuesday.

Morning Flare was ridden by 15 year old apprentice Luke Morgan and the filly, bought for only $600 broken in, has now won three races and $23,000.

"She has certainly been a bargain buy," Vine said.

"She might only be small but she is one of the toughest and gamest horses I have ever put a bridle on.

"There is no doubt she will get the 1600 metres.

"She has won twice over 1400 metres and when she scored at Tamworth she just swept down the outside."

nTHE chairman of the Country Racing Council, Stan Hayes, says his decision to retire on Coffs Harbour Cup Day was prompted by nothing more than a desire by himself and his wife Anita to travel and to see more of their children and grand children.

Three days after the Coffs Harbour Cup they fly out for a tour of Canada, Alaska and parts of America.

Hayes has been involved in racing administration for more than 25 years including time as treasurer of the Clarence River Jockey Club and chairman of the Northern Rivers Racing Association.

He has spent that last 10 years as chairman of the Country Racing Council, commuting to Sydney and back ? originally from Grafton and more recently from Lennox Head, where he and Anita have now retired.

"A lot of issues have arisen in that time and I had to be in Sydney to lead the council's response to them," he said.

"I thought it was time for some new blood to be brought on to the council to inject some fresh ideas.

"We have children and grand children in Newcastle, Grafton and Brisbane while another of our daughters and her husband are coming back to Australia soon from South Africa and are building a home near us.

"It will be nice to spend time with them and help them settle in."

While country racing achieved much under Stan's tenure, he is concerned about country racing in the short term.

"The problem with divided television rights has affected turnover and that is going to affect the amount of money available to country racing," he said.

"We had plans to lift prize money overall, take major clubs to the same prize money level as regional clubs, increase prize money for Saturday non-TAB meetings and inject more money into race course maintenance.

"We also had a plan to help clubs, on a dollar for dollar basis, that wanted to take prize money for their major races to $100,000. That would have eventually given country racing 10 or 12 races worth $100,000 or more.

"The current situation has put those plans back by at least 12 months."

nNORTHERN Rivers Racing: Today, Casino TAB, tomorrow Bowraville (cup) TAB, Thursday July 7 Grafton (Westlawn day) TAB, Sunday July 10 Grafton (South Grafton cup) TAB, Wednesday July 13 Grafton (Ramornie) TAB, Thursday July 14 Grafton (cup) TAB, Sunday July 17 Grafton (Maclean cup) TAB, Monday July 18 Murwillumbah TAB, Sunday July 24 Coffs Harbour TAB.

nTHE amazing recuperative powers of Casino race course have survived a stewards inspection and today's seven-event TAB meeting will go ahead.

This is despite the track being drenched by the rain that caused widespread flooding last Thursday.

Stewards inspected the track at 2.30pm yesterday and apart from one small section were surprised with how quickly the track had recovered.

This meeting and particularly the first race will hold special memories for former jockey Gary Kliese.

It was at this meeting in 1996 that Kliese rode his last winner, scoring on the Sue Bir- ney-trained Tioga.

Lees than a week later he was badly injured in a fall at Coffs Harbour which ended his riding career.

The first race on today's program has been named the Thank You Gary Kliese Maiden Hcp to recognise the support he gives local racing through his role with Ra- dio 2KY.

nWHEN you're on a roll ... Last Saturday Ross Gorman won Grafton District Services Club's jackpot TAB bet yet again.

While Ross has become a regular winner of the bet it doesn't always mean he can pick a winner. He had $15 for the win and $10 for the place on Motivator at Eagle Farm, but it could manage only sixth behind Sky Love in the Tattersalls Cup.

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