ALL CLEAR: Trainer David Kelly is returning home to train at Grafton.
ALL CLEAR: Trainer David Kelly is returning home to train at Grafton. Adam Hourigan

Kelly finally gets all clear to return home

RACING: A favourite son is finally returning to Grafton with horse trainer David Kelly expected to return to the Clarence Valley as early as next week.

It has been an arduous process for Kelly who first applied to transfer his Queensland racing license to New South Wales almost three months ago.

Racing NSW made the trainer sweat as he continued to operate in Grafton on a visitors license while the governing body ran a series of checks on his operations and reasons for leaving his Gold Coast base.

The grandson of four-time Ramornie Handicap-winning jockey CD "Skeeter” Kelly and son of Grafton starter Rex Kelly, the 47-year-old trainer has a strong connection to bush racing.

While he started his racing career in the saddle much like his grandfather, Kelly transitioned well to training and soon had a 40-horse stable in action on the Gold Coast.

But there was always a desire to return to his home roots, as he stated in an interview with racing writer Tony White in 2015.

"I'd love to come back to Grafton and train,” Kelly said. "All I need is the right block of stables. I enjoy racing in the bush. I'm still a country boy at heart.”

And it appeared 2017 was finally the year he would pull the pin on a return to Grafton, reducing his stable to 15 runners and finding a perfect space in Riverdale Lodge on Turf St.

But a serious hold up with Racing NSW approving his application almost caused it to all come undone with Kelly even transferring horses out of his stable in what is understood to be an act of defiance.

However this week, Racing NSW approved the application, with a member of their licensing team stating the organisation had "offered Kelly a license” and was in the process of completing formalities.

"There is a series of checks and balances that any trainer has to go through (with a license transfer),” a Racing NSW spokesperson said. "It could all be tidied up as early as tomorrow.”

Clarence River Jockey Club executive officer Michael Beattie said the checks were a standard procedure of the modern era and sometimes they can take longer than expected.

"There was just a bit of a delay, but it has all been fixed as far as I know,” Beattie said. "As of Monday, he will be a Grafton trainer once again.

"It is not unusual for there to be delays when trainers try to transfer interstate licenses. There has to be an assurance that the trainer is not running from any outstanding fees.

"David is not alone, there would be plenty of instances like that. While it took time there was no negative affect on his business model.”

One horse that has already been transferred back to the Kelly stable is exciting filly Howick, who was a last-start winner under the guidance of Southgate trainer Cathy Chapman - who took most of Kelly's thoroughbreds into work in the past fortnight.

Howick will be aiming to make it two wins on the trot today when she jumps from barrier six in the A.J Pipelines Class 1 Handicap (1300m) at Coffs Harbour.

Kelly was unable to be contacted for comment.

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