COOL CUSTOMER: Shelton's Prince notches three straight
RACING: Despite the mercury soaring around him, John Shelton-trained galloper Cool Prince was ice cold at the Clarence River Jockey Club.
Piloted by Grafton apprentice Leah Kilner, the six-year-old gelding never looked like being headed as he notched a third-straight win.
Saddled up as the topweight in the Gfest Music Festival @ CRJC 9 March Benchmark 66 Handicap (1400m), the son of Casino Prince was unstoppable as he led along the back straight before kicking clear around the 400m mark.
A late lunge from Anthony Allen on board Scott Henley's challenger Rakhish closed the margin to just over half-a-length while Tudor Sunrise, a further four lengths back, rounded out the placings.
The dominant performance, his third straight after wins at Kempsey and Coffs Harbour, was both a blessing and a curse for Shelton, who has now been caught in two minds about his six-year-old challenger.
"I was thinking about giving him a bit of a spell but the way he is racing, he is just absolutely loving it out there,” Shelton said after the race.
"I will have to sit down with the owners to discuss his immediate future, but I think he will be a good July horse so he might be due for a little bit of a break soon.
"We will just let him tell us in the next few days.”
While he was initially put off by the big weight handed to his galloper (59.5kg with Kilner's claim), Shelton knew the horse was in prime condition thanks to the help of trackwork rider Dan Want.
"He is a big strong horse and Leah is riding really good so they had a good combination,” he said. "Dan has a real good handle on him, he rides all of his work. We did a bit of road work with him the other day and Dan said he was as good if not better than when he won the other day. This bloke just holds his form.
"He is a tough horse, I know he has got a hell of a sprint on him but he can really grind as well. He has a pretty high cruising speed and he just keeps coming.”
Cool Prince did have to fight it out at the top of the straight with early race favourite Editors, trained by Ross Stitt, but once he kicked clear, the win was all but sewn up.
"I saw Editors came off the bridle pretty early and I saw my fella hadn't moved so I was pretty confident after that,” he said. "He gave a really good kick down the straight today.
"All credit to Scott Henley and his runner, they put in a massive effort there.
While it was her first time on the gelding, Kilner said it was an easy ride despite a bit of a play up in the barriers.
"He is just a beautiful horse to ride, he is big, he strides and he is very easy,” she said.
"He jumped alright, he sort of half knuckled a bit but I just sort of let him go a bit, I didn't want to stir him up too much in the barriers.
"I just let him begin on his own and he just took it upon himself to pull me up to the front and once he got there he did it easy.”
Fellow Grafton trainer Wayne Lawson also enjoyed a fun day out in the sun when Dominant Crown returned to the track in dominant fashion with a two-and-a-half length win in the Return To Racing Handicap (1000m).
The Lawson-trained sprinter sat three deep for most of the journey before poking his head through a gap at the 400m and accelerating towards the line.
Fellow local galloper Clint for the Paul Richardson stable at Lawrence settled for third place after leading for most of the journey.
Kilner split the pair on board Hydrazine for the Stephen Lee stable at Ballina.
2YO HCP: 3. SIDEKISS (T: J Pengilly, J: R Maloney)
BMK 66 HCP: COOL PRINCE (T: J Shelton, J: L Kilner)
MDN PLATE: ZOUKI (T: J Hardy, J: P Hammersly)
OPEN HCP: DOMINANT CROWN (T: W Lawson, J: A Allen)
MDN HCP: BOYLES (T: S Henley, J: A Allen)
BMK 58 HCP: CHANTILLY CHATEAU (T: J Reilly, J: R Spokes)
BMK 58 HCP: DEXTER DUTTON (T: O Glue, J: P Hammersly)