TRACK KING: Shelton reigns supreme, but Kosciuszko awaits
RACING: After four decades in the industry, Grafton trainer John Shelton could be forgiven if he wanted to slow down.
And while his stable may have almost halved over the years, that doesn't mean his winning tally has.
In fact, Shelton, 63, was once again crowned the Clarence River Jockey Club's premier trainer last season, taking his tally to 19 of the past 20 premierships.
It's a record that speaks for itself, but not one that Shelton has been focused on at all.
"I guess I have won a few of them, I know I have a few of those little horse heads on the mantelpiece,” he said.
"It is a good feeling, but I don't strive to win it each year. If it isn't my name read out, it isn't the end of the world, I just like to keep chipping away.
"At the end of the day we're here to win races, not awards.”
But one award that Shelton was proud to lift this season was the Bob Gosling Award for trainer's excellence. It was a win that brought back memories of Grafton's former premier trainer, not all of them good ones for Shelton.
"We did have a few famous battles, there was one great one in the Coffs Cup, he got me by a nostril,” he said.
"It was a bit of a shock (to get the award), I thought that was pretty special for sure. I knew Bob for years, we always got on pretty good at the races, he was a fine man.”
While he might have scooped the pool at the CRJC's annual night of nights, there is one prize on the horizon Shelton is desperate to win.
A chance to climb the peak of 'The Kosciuszko'.
Racing NSW's latest endeavour is a $1.3 million race just for the bush battlers set on racing's richest day alongside megabucks race The Everest.
People will be able to win slots in the 1200m race, which they will then fill with a country-trained galloper. And all it could cost you is $5 at the TAB, with all entries going into a lottery.
The slot holders are drawn this Friday, and Shelton hopes one of them will look at his own stable star, Belflyer.
The horse that finished second behind Havasay in the Ramornie Handicap, despite changing riders at the 11th hour, has been set perfectly for The Kosciuszko, according to Shelton.
"I guess you don't really know where he is up to in terms of the field, but I would put him among the 12 best country gallopers,” Shelton said.
"On his given day he has an electric finish and he definitely wouldn't disgrace himself.”
As for his stable's best bet on today's bumper 10-race card at the Clarence River Jockey Club, Shelton could not go past maiden chance King of Monaco.
He was a fast-finishing second palce finish last start under the guidance of Grafton's latest arrival Brooke Stower, and she gets the reins again in the Racecourse Function Centre Maiden Plate (1710m).