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FROM a Cessnock Cup to a Sydney Cup?

And with an eight-year-old mare to boot!

Some story that will be if Wayne Seelin happens to pull such an ambitious assignment off.

The long-range plan to have a crack at the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Royal Randwick in April with Apache Belle is something which is definitely in the Wyong trainer’s thoughts.

The “old girl” was having her 56th start in last week’s Cessnock Cup (2100m) on Newcastle’s inside Beaumont track last week when she posted her ninth victory under 60.5kg with Grant Buckley aboard.

That was Seelin’s second Cessnock Cup triumph, having won with Weston (Serg Lisnyy) in 2019 when Newcastle Jockey Club was still conducting racing at Cessnock.

But she didn’t join his stable until she had raced 22 times for several other trainers, and had won three races (at Port Macquarie over 1106m, Moree 1600m, and Scone 1300m).

“I was doing a horse industry course at TAFE before I got my training licence and met Dennis Mcenearney, who was doing the same course,” Seelin said.

“We became pretty good mates, but he kept giving horses to other trainers, and I wondered what I was doing wrong.

“Eventually, he gave me Apache Belle’s older half-brother Apache Dude (now retired).”

Coincidentally, that was also after 22 starts – and Seelin won two races with him along with four placings from only a dozen or so runs.

Whilst he didn’t win first-up with Apache Dude, he certainly did with Apache Belle – and it was some training performance!

The mare hadn’t raced for nearly a year when, as a $31 chance, she came from well back to land a Benchmark 58 Handicap (1200m) against her own sex at Port Macquarie in March, 2021 on a heavy surface.

Seelin has since won a further five races with Apache Belle (her dam Accountess died in January last year), and it was her success in the Hunter Stayers’ Cup (2900m) at Newcastle two years ago which has remained uppermost in his mind.

“She beat True Marvel that day, and he had won the race the previous year,” Seelin said.

“True Marvel subsequently won long distance races at Mornington and Moonee Valley twice (the second by 16 lengths in a 3800m Highweight).

“He nearly caused a boilover when second at huge odds in the Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick in April, and also ran third in the Brisbane Cup at the same distance in June, and ran well in this week’s Melbourne Cup.”

Seelin says Apache Belle is a clean-winded mare who doesn’t need a lot of work between races.

“She is tough, and I love what she does. She’s got the best attitude.

“And I have to make special mention of her trackwork rider Annabelle, who has a special connection with this mare.

“She has a great knack of telling me nearly every time Apache Belle is ready to win, including the first one at Port Macquarie after that long layoff.

“You won’t meet anyone more reliable than the two Belle’s.”

Seelin is chasing a city win with Apache Belle in a Benchmark 78 Handicap (2400m), with Brock Ryan aboard, at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

“I might give her one or two more runs before a break, and hopefully try to have a go at the Sydney Cup in autumn,” he said.

*Story John Curtis, November 9, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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