Grafton trainers impress on their return to CRJC for 2021
A return to racing at the Clarence River Jockey Club for 2021 had a bit of something for everyone, with Grafton trainers among in the winner's circle for the return of racing at their home track.
Among the trainers to start their year off with a win in Grafton was John Shelton with Bugalugs, that lead from the front and didn't let go in the Grafton Horse of the Year Dinner 6 March Open Handicap (1000 metres).
The five-year-old gelding held out against race favourite and top weight Plonka, trained by Warren Gavenlock, to record a seventh career win.
Speaking after the race Shelton admitted he hadn't given his runner that much of a chance, let alone think he could lead and win from the jump.
"I got it wrong, I thought he might get into fourth spot but crossed the line really easy," he said.
"He had a great gate and a great start, it was pretty impressive. He has been a good horse since I've had him. Wet or dry, doesn't matter, he is a lovely horse.
"I couldn't find a suitable race for him (the past three weeks) so I thought I'd freshen him up and run him in the 1000m here, we've got another race, a 1100m in a fortnight so we'll go from there."
Another impressive runner that claimed victory on his home track was the Daniel Want trained Casino Fourteen that took out the NRRA Country Championship Preview- Class 4 Handicap (1200 metres).
A recent acquisition for Want, Casino Fourteen had previously been racing in Victoria before making the trip up north late last year.
Want said a friend of his had strongly recommended the six-year-old gelding, and after paying $15,000 Casino Fourteen has already racked up two wins from his last two starts for Want, netting $22,400 in prize money.
"It's turned out to be fairly cheap, and I think there's plenty more where that came from," Want said.
Fellow Grafton trainer Cathy Chapman also started 2021 with a win when Glycine Max stormed home in emphatic fashion to claim the Happy 60th Birthday Ian Lambert Benchmark 58 Handicap (2200 metres).
The opening race of the day also saw the training debut of a familiar face around the Clarence River Jockey Club of Samantha McGuren (nee Munro).
A former top jockey who retired and returned as clerk of the CRJC course, McGuren entered Cool Harry as her first runner as a trainer in the Kensei Club 2021 2yo Handicap (1000 metres), which finished fifth. Husband Matt was booked a ride in the same race, however bragging rights will have to wait for another day after his runner was scratched.