LEADING IN A DOUBLE DOSE: Ballina trainer Steven Phelps will attempt to double his chances today with Lillooet and My Cousin Jackie both running in the feature Jacaranda Crown (1600m).
LEADING IN A DOUBLE DOSE: Ballina trainer Steven Phelps will attempt to double his chances today with Lillooet and My Cousin Jackie both running in the feature Jacaranda Crown (1600m). Cathy Adams

Will the royal blue raiders plunder the Jacaranda Crown?

JACARANDA CROWN: The white and blue colours of owners George and Shirley Austin will be out in force at the Clarence River Jockey Club when they watch Lillooet and My Cousin Jackie race against each other today.

The champion gallopers clash in the Jacaranda Crown (1600m) and are both recent winners at the Grafton track for Ballina trainer Steven Phelps.

The Gold Coast couple's colours fall well short of the domination of Godolphin in Tuesday's Melbourne Cup, but seeing one of their horses past the post first will be just as satisfying.

"They bred both of the mares. The horses are completely different in character and I reckon they are a chance of running the quinella," trainer Phelps said.

"I have always had a bit of time for Lillooet, while My Cousin Jackie is a cranky type who will snap at you pretty quickly.

"Our Cousin Jackie won her maiden at Grafton first-up, while Lillooet has won a few more times and is going well."

Lillooet, who is named after a community on the Fraser River in British Columbia, Canada, was impressive racing away from her rivals in a Benchmark 57 on October 25.

Jockey Matthew McGuren retains the ride while apprentice Jackson Murphy is back aboard My Cousin Jackie after a last start fifth.

McGuren said while recent form in last week's Benchmark 57 has Lillooet well placed for today's race it will be a big jump in class.

"Take nothing away from her win last week but they were a bunch of camels she beat," he said.

"She is a little horse that tries really hard and out of Barrier 3 she is going to get the run of this race 100%.

"She is the type of horse that is always going to sit up in the first half dozen and if they want to whack the tempo on early we will happily go with them and sit about three or four deep."

Phelps, who has had a strong start to the season with several winners especially at Grafton, said it wasn't his preferred option to start the mares against each other.

While Our Cousin Jackie doesn't have the record of her stable mate, Phelps isn't discounting her chances.

"She is just out of maiden grade and can keep improving," he said.

"Lillooet keeps getting better with age and always runs well."

The trainer has eight in work with the majority made up of mares at his Ballina base.

He has trained a few quinellas in the past and believes a ticket on his two mares would be money well spent.

"I love training mares and these two looks a good quinella chance," he added.

The Jacaranda Crown is race five on a busy Jacaranda Cup program with racing starting at 1.50pm.

- with Melesa White and Matthew Elkerton



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