by Geoff Newling
MS BA BELLA faces a small but tough field when the Lismore mare starts in tomorrow's $20,000 Community Cup (1400m) at the Ballina Jockey Club.
The Gary Nielsen-trained eight-year-old returned to the race track running 12th to smart Coffs Harbour mare Bonne Cheval in the Untamed at Lismore on last Thursday's Cup meeting.
She had spent 31 weeks in the paddock after finishing second to Hunter Jack in the 1440m Walcha Cup and then an 11th at Eagle Farm.
From 41 starts she has won eight times for $185,800 for her Lismore syndicate which also contains Nielsen.
She has drawn barrier eight in Sunday's Cup with Japanese apprentice Miki Nakao claiming three kilograms off her 56kg impost.
That will give her 1kg less than Rousillon winner On Demand, who has drawn on the inside of Ms Ba Bella in barrier seven.
The Pat Duff-trained On Demand was impressive in winning the 1600m Rousillon at Lismore and has the same weight the six-year-old gelding son of Snippetson had in his Lismore success.
Three Grafton-trained horses also figure prominently in Sunday's feature race - Belflyer, Splinter and Redwolf.
The latter was beaten 3.45 lengths in the Untamed at Lismore, the seven-year-old chestnut gelding son of Testa Rossa chasing a sixth career win. He drops a kg in weight to the 54kg minimum and jumps from barrier three after starting from 10 in the Untamed.
Alan Ryan prepares him while Hunter Kilner trains Splinter, a six-year-old gelding son of Conatus who has five wins in 26 starts.
He is also a last start winner who goes from barrier one with Carla Dougherty's 3kg claim giving him a luxury 51kg.
In three Ballina starts though he has yet to win.
Belflyer, trained by John Shelton at Grafton, makes his Ballina debut.
He will jump barrier two with Ben Looker aboard.
He has been aboard all four runs this preparation, which started with a good second in the Casino Cup, a win on his home Grafton track and victory in the 1400m Moree Cup.
He was sixth at Ipswich last time out, beaten just over three lengths in a 1350m no metro wins race.
He has drawn well in barrier two and can add to his eight-win, 42-start career.