Horses pass the post in the Maclean Bowling Club Maclean Cup at the Grafton racecourse on Sunday. The race was won by Forestren
Horses pass the post in the Maclean Bowling Club Maclean Cup at the Grafton racecourse on Sunday. The race was won by Forestren

TRAINERS STEP UP

By TONY WHITE

THIS year's highly successful $780,000 July Racing Carnival in Grafton will go down in history as the year of the local fightback.

During the five TAB carnival racedays, locally-trained horses won 14 of the 40 races (35 per cent), with local jockeys and local owners also sharing in the spoils.

In past years visiting trainers have largely scooped the pool, numerically outweighing the local content in race wins during the carnival that attracts immense media focus, attention from right around Australia and plenty of competition.

Hometown wins, from maidens to feature races, are always enormously popular. They sate the appetite of locals, increase interest and create a platform to build further success upon.

Phil McLeod, who prepared seven individual winners, said this year's local performance was fantastic.

"It's been an outstanding effort from everyone against so many visiting trainers and horses.

"To me the biggest difference is having a course curator (Warren Ford) and club that all they want to do is help you.

"They (the club) have bent over backwards to help the local trainers. If we needed to work horses they've done all they can to make it happen."

David Campbell, who scored a winning double on Ramornie Day, agreed with McLeod's sentiments.

"The club has been fantastic," he concurred. "We've got one of the best training facilities in country NSW.

"I have to give a huge rap to the club who have undoubtedly contributed to our success."

Campbell said the quality of horses racing locally had also increased.

"The grade of horse here (Grafton) is a lot better than previously," Campbell said. "The breeding is better. We've learned to compete against all these visiting fellas ? we've had to upgrade."

Five-time Northern Rivers premiership winning trainer John Shelton, who trained three winners over the carnival, said the local effort was really good.

"We don't normally win that many races over the carnival. It's terrific for the locals and great to see. There's some decent horses, quality horses here now and I'm sure some of them are capable of going to town (the metropolitan area) and acquitting themselves well. The standard and breeding is certainly better. No rubbish horses win over the carnival anymore."

Locals prepared two feature race winners over the carnival.

Felicity Firth's Umatrick, a gelding owned by local Tucabia general store owners Diana and Russell Ball, won the John Carlton Cup.

Promising three-year-old Forestreno, trained by Phil McLeod, won the Maclean Cup.

Other feature race performances from locals included Aquatic Drive (Terry Commerford) finishing runner-up to Extra Dollars in the Grafton Cup Prelude, Greg Howells' Sandy Shore rattling home for third behind Saranac and Leg Irons in the South Grafton Cup, and gallant Sir Dan finishing third in successive years behind King Rex and Mastermind, formerly trained by Commerford, in the Ramornie.

Local wins during the carnival.

Westlawn Finance Prelude Day (July 7).

Fanqualo, jockey Craig Franklin, trainer John Shelton.

Forestreno, Allan Robinson, Phil McLeod.

Umatrick, Bruce Compton, Felicity Firth.

South Grafton Cup Day (July 10).

Meteorite, Darron Coleman, Phil McLeod.

Ramornie Day (July 13).

Uncle Corrado, Darron Coleman, David Campbell.

Quad Queen, Allan Robinson, Phil McLeod.

Buzz Bandit, Scott Thurlow, David Campbell.

Judicial Queen, Allan Robinson, Phil McLeod.

Grafton Cup Day (July 14).

Talking Blue, Craig Franklin, Peter Clark.

Maclean Cup Day (July 17).

Like A River, Stephen Traecey, John Shelton.

Quad Queen, Allan Robinson, Phil McLeod.

Star Of Tiarne, Stephen Traecey, John Shelton.

Forestreno, Allan Robinson, Phil McLeod.

Meteorite, Darron Coleman, Phil McLeod.



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