Ben Looker celebrates winning the 2019 Grafton Cup aboard Sacred Day.
Ben Looker celebrates winning the 2019 Grafton Cup aboard Sacred Day. Adam Hourigan

Looker to ride Shelton's Cool Prince in July Carnival finale

MACLEAN CUP: BEN Looker was the talk of the town after taking out the Grafton Cup with Sacred Day on Thursday anf the Grafton jockey will be hoping to round off a successful July Carnival with a strong run on John Shelton's Cool Prince tomorrow.

Cool Prince and Looker will go from barrier two tomorrow but the six-year-old gelding son of Casino Prince needs to improve on unplaced efforts at Casino, Ballina and Grafton since his return from a spell.

GRAFTON'S PRINCE: John Shelton trained Cool Prince will run in the Maclean Cup with Grafton Cup winner Ben Looker taking the reigns.
GRAFTON'S PRINCE: John Shelton trained Cool Prince will run in the Maclean Cup with Grafton Cup winner Ben Looker taking the reigns. Matthew Elkerton

Looker didn't have much time to celebrate his victory, heading home before racing down south then returning for the Maclean Cup.

"I'm not sure if I'll stay the night,” Looker said after his monumental win on Thursday.

"I've got Port Macquarie Saturday and then back here on Sunday so I'm busy as always but I'll definitely have a celebratory drink or two tonight.

"It's such a high to try to comeback from but being a jockey I ride five or six days a week and the next race you've always got a job to do.”

Looker had long dreamt of clinching the Grafton Cup and it was obvious how much it meant to him and those around him when he realised that dream on Thursday.

"At the moment I still can't describe it,” he said.

"I grew up in Grafton and I did my apprenticeship here, obviously I live in Port Macquarie now but Grafton will always be home.”

The hometown jockey has had some hiccups at the Clarence River Jockey Club including an horrific fall on Ramornie Handicap Day last year but the determination has paid off for the resilient athlete.

"The July Carnival has been a bit of a hoodoo for me over the years, I've had a lot of falls, injuries and suspensions but to win a Grafton Cup is a dream. I keep thinking I'm going to wake up on Thursday morning again,” he said.

Looker credits his wife, Priscilla Schmidt, with helping his realise his Grafton Cup dream by suggesting Sacred Day had the form and ability to win the coveted Cup.

He followed her suggestion and obtained the ride from Kiwi trainer Tony Pike and made his dream come true with a brilliant winning ride on Thursday.

He also has a full book of rides at port Macquarie on Saturday, where Follow Our Dream is a ride in the first race.

John Shelton has also welcomed back last year's Kosciuszko winner Bellflyer from a spell and surgery.

"He came back in this week," Shelton advised.

"Had keyhole surgery on a tendon sheaf, nothing major. Good to have him back."

He believes he will have time to have him right to go in order to defend the prestigious Kosciuszko crown.

"I think we can overcome the little hiccup," he said.

"I am hoping to go into the race second up."

While Shelton may not be entirely confident in Cool Prince's ability to get the job done in tomorrow's Maclean Cup, Looker will be riding a high after achieving a life-long dream and should make a strong claim for another feature in the July Carnival finale.



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