LEADING HOPE: Andrew Cahill helps prepare the John Shelton-trained Excellero ahead of today’s Grafton race meet.
LEADING HOPE: Andrew Cahill helps prepare the John Shelton-trained Excellero ahead of today’s Grafton race meet. Adam Hourigan

Shelton filly ready to excel

CLASS 1 HCP: Grafton trainer John Shelton has admitted his runner Excellero will need to overcome a number of challenges if she is to win at Grafton today but still he is confident she can do so.

Excellero will line up in the Kensei Club Closes Today Class 1 Handicap (1015m) chasing consecutive wins but Shelton said securing victory would be a hard task.

"She's shockingly weighted for a three-year-old filly," he said.

"She's drawn wide (barrier 11) and she'd probably like a bit more distance.

"But she loves to put herself in the race so I give her every chance."

Shelton has responded to the rise in weight by engaging promising apprentice Jesse Graham instead of her usual rider Kasie Stanley.

"I can't see how you can give a filly 59kg when she's come up in class as well," Shelton said.

"We've had to go to Jesse to get the 2.5kg claim which gives her more chance with the weights."

Stanley had partnered the chestnut in nine out of her 10 first rides, including her breakthrough win last start at Murwillumbah on April 12.

Shelton said that run, when she was drawn wide and over a similar distance to today's race, will act as a blueprint for today.

Although not the best out to begin from her outside gate, Excellero quickly made up ground to be racing outside the leader before the field reached the first turn.

Stanley allowed the filly to cruise in second before mounting a challenge once heads were turned for home. In the run to the finish Excellero found plenty to score a solid victory.

"She'll have to push up early if she's going to have any chance this time," Shelton said.

Shelton said Excellero was a joy to train and race.

"She's just so honest," he said. "Whatever she's doing she just gives you everything."

With seven placings, including her last-start win, from 10 jumps, Shelton couldn't be happier with her form.

While he's finding it hard now to get some longer races for her, which he thinks will suit her, he's looking to the July Carnival to provide some opportunities.

"I'm not looking at the big races but there will be a few opportunities for her there for sure," he said.



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