Georgie Salmon, 8 gets a look at Tarbert, who is up for a start in this year's Koscziusko race, which trainer John Shelton won last year with Belflyer.
Georgie Salmon, 8 gets a look at Tarbert, who is up for a start in this year's Koscziusko race, which trainer John Shelton won last year with Belflyer. Adam Hourigan

Trainer has one horse in richest race, working on a second

RACING: Leading Grafton thoroughbred trainer John Shelton is certain of one runner in this year's $1.2million Kosciuszko at Royal Randwick on October 19, but it won't be his defending champion Belflyer.

The Shelton stable's other hopeful for the richest race for country-trained horses in Australia, Tarbert, will be a definite starter after one of the horse's connections bought a winning ticket in The Koscziusko lottery at Walkers Marina Hotel.

Hotel manager Tony Everingham said one of the horse's owners, Tony Cahill had been at the hotel buying up tickets to so he could nominate the horse for the race.

"He was here and bought a heap of tickets hoping he could get his horse into the race,” Everingham said.

"It's been a real plus for us and for Grafton that he managed to buy the winner here.”

He said the owners are trying to get former local jockey and Hong Kong's leading rider, Zac Purton, over here to ride him in the race.

"He has to get permission from Hong Kong racing to allow him to ride here, so we it's up to them if they'll give him the time off to ride him,” Everingham said.

He said it would be wonderful if Belflyer could get a run as well, a feeling his trainer shared.

Shelton has not given up hope that the champion will line up at Randwick to defend his title.

"We've got to hope that someone likes him,” he said.

"The trouble is, he's been out for a while and people's memories are short.

"They tend to think what won last Saturday and what will win next Saturday.”

Shelton said with five spots gone in The Kosciuszko, there were still nine up for grabs.

"We haven't given up hope yet,” he said. "Last year I think Belflyer was the second last in.”

He said both horses are suited to running at Randwick and could win.

"They're both very similar horses in their running patterns,” he said.

"They both get back and like to sweep home, which suits running at Randwick against country-trained horses.