Shelton's sights on Kosciuszko after horse of the year gong
RACING: While he might have scooped the pool at the Clarence River Jockey Club's annual Horse of the Year Awards on Saturday night, veteran trainer John Shelton has his sights firmly set on a much richer prize.
Shelton, who was the Grafton trainer's premiership winner for the 2017/18 season - an award he has won an astonishing 19 times in the past two decades, also took out the highly coveted Bob Gosling Award for trainer's excellence.
He also had stable gallopers Invincible Tammy (3YO Filly), Belflyer (4YO E+G) and Lucky Meteor (Old Timers Sprinters) all take out their own categories at the awards night.
But it is Horse of the Year winner, and Ramornie Handicap runner-up Belflyer, who Shelton has pinned his hopes on for The Kosciuszko, NSW's richest race for country horses.
Speaking on behalf of owners, Queensland cattle farmers Rodney Rideout and Troy Hogan, CRJC committee member Terry Green implored the room to make sure they bought tickets in the draw for the $1.3-million feature.
"This horse will be ready for The Kosciuszko; he was sensational in the Ramornie, he showed his form and he will likely just get a little tune up before the day,” Green said.
Shelton praised his stable staff for "putting in 100 per cent” when it comes to caring for his horses.
"The guys in the stable have done a fantastic job,” he said. "It is great to have these awards, and great to be recognised.
"We have had a decent year as a stable, hopefully we can just keep chipping away and we will be back here next year.”
Punters are still in with a shot of owning a Kosciuszko race slot, which then is filled by a horse of their choice, with tickets on sale at all licensed TAB establishments in NSW.
A $5 ticket will put you in the draw for one of 12 race slots.
Greg Kilner and his connections also had a win on the night with She's Choosie taking out the 2YO award.
The win made it the second time in three years that Kilner had won the award with stable superstar Charlee Bear winning it back in 2016.
Part-owner Charlie Doggett accepted the award on behalf of the stable and thanked the CRJC for putting on the night.
In the 3YO C+G it was the Jim Lloyd-bred Aimalac Bulsa for David Campbell that took out the award while the Jason Reilly-trained Chantilly Chateau took out the 4YO mare.
Dwayne Schmidt-trained stayer Time To Rock, who only last month had to be retired from racing, took out the Old Timers Stayers award with two wins from 11 starts this year.
Kilner flying on top of the world
ON A night where she rode a winning double at Toowoomba, Leah Kilner picked up the richest prize in her brief career when she was named the John Hutchings Award winner at the Horse of the Year awards.
In her first nine months in the saddle, Kilner has amassed an impressive 32 wins, at an average of more than one a week, and also took out the Northern Rivers Racing Association apprentice premiership for the 2017/18 racing season.
Kilner edged out top Grafton hoops Matt McGuren and Matt Paget on her way to collecting the John Hutchings Award.
The daughter of Grafton trainer Greg Kilner, Leah, started her career on Boxing Day last year with a win and two minor placings.
Obviously, it was only a sign of things to come for Kilner.
HORSE OF THE YEAR AWARDS
2YO: She's Choosie (G Kilner)
3YO Filly: Invincible Tammy (J Shelton)
3YO C+G: Aimalac Bulsa (D Campbell)
4YO Mare: Chantilly Chateau (J Reilly)
4YO E+G: Belflyer (J Shelton)
Old Timer Sprint: Lucky Meteor (J Shelton)
Old Timer Stayer: Time To Rock (D Schmidt)
John Hutchings Award: Leah Kilner
Bob Gosling Award: John Shelton
Horse of the Year: Belflyer (J Shelton)