Lucky Meteor strikes in 'Purple Cup'
RACING: There is no doubt champion gelding Lucky Meteor has brought more than a little luck to the John Shelton stables in Grafton.
The experienced seven-year-old pushed his winnings past the $200,000 mark for former Grafton couple Brian and Betty Paine when he stormed to the post to win the Herb Blanchard Haulage Jacaranda Cup (1100m) at Grafton on Wednesday.
It was a race the gelding was almost weighted out of when he got saddled with 63kg as the topweight but a 3kg claim from apprentice Olivia Pickering brought him back in line with the rest of the hot field.
"Not only did Olivia give us the claim, but she also gave us a great ride,” Shelton said.
"I thought he may have led from the gates, but she sat him nicely behind the leader and he always had it covered in the straight.”
Lucky Meteor attempted to push forward early but did not have the pace to match it with leader La Dolce Vita (Julie Hodder).
While the enigmatic mare put three lengths on his charge at the 600m mark, there was still never a doubt in Shelton's mind.
"I was quietly confident through the race,” he said.
"He has a nice turn of foot and always runs a strong finish to his races.”
A thrilling finish was set up when Cyril Small put in a valiant charge from the back of the field onboard Upstart to finish second, while La Dolce Vita hung on for a two and a half length third.
It was the second time in his career that Shelton has laid hands on the Clarence River Jockey Club's 'Purple Cup' and it was a proud moment for the stable and its connections.
Shelton said he had no set plans for the gelding.