Belflyer ready to climb the mountain
HORSE RACING: After saddling thousands of horses, you wouldn't think nerves would worry Grafton trainer John Shelton, but he has admitted to having some sleepless nights before Saturday's rich Kosciuszko race.
It is more than just a race though.
The newly created $1.3million Kosciuszko, over 1200m, will contain the best country sprinters in NSW and Shelton's seven-year-old gelding Belflyer, which is a $21 chance according to Ladbrokes, will line up as the Clarence's representative.
And despite the nerves, Shelton is quietly confident he'll be there at the business end.
"I'm very happy with him, his work today was spot on and I think he's ready to run a really good race,” he said.
"I still think the Ramornie is the benchmark country sprint and he ran second in it, and though they've got a great lot of horses assembled, he won't disgrace himself.”
Shelton will travel with the horse to Sydney tonight and give him a rest on Thursday and a light swim on Friday before the race Saturday at Randwick.
Shelton has listed jockey Adam Hyeronimus, who has had a long association with the stable, to ride, and said the barrier draw wouldn't bother him.
"There's only 12 in the race, so it's not really a concern,” he said.
"I'm just hoping there's some speed in it, which there should be with the Monstar and another two or three horses they say will get out.”
"If so, and he gets the drop on them, if he's good enough hopefully he can hit the line hard.”
Shelton has trained many horses throughout his career, including his iconic win with Mother's Gift in the 2000 Ramornie Handicap, and said he rated Belflyer among the best he'd had.
"Definitely one of the top five I've trained,” he said.
And as for the big race, Shelton admitted that with the publicity for the big race he'd had a few sleepless nights thinking about it.
"Once he gets out of the barrier, my job's done though,” he laughed.