Mooltan, front, comes from wide out on the track to edge out Extra Exceleration in Race 7 at Grafton yesterday.
Mooltan, front, comes from wide out on the track to edge out Extra Exceleration in Race 7 at Grafton yesterday. Adam Hourigan

Trio of trainers eye carnival

GORDON Yorke was talking the Ramornie with Mooltan, Ross Stitt the Guineas with promising Southern Shimmer and wily Jack Gallagher the Guineas too with Prince Oka.

July Carnival capers have started early.

Yesterday, on a sodden, heavy racing surface at Grafton that raced remarkably well, the above trio of trainers were eagerly looking to the future.

Mooltan, a lightly raced four-year-old yet to reach his peak, scored his third successive win on wet tracks at Grafton, snaring the Sawtell Bowling Club Class 2 Hcp (1100m) in a highly deceptive finish.

Steaming home out wide and ridden by Nicholas Perrett, Mooltan edged out Grafton-trained Extra Exceleration (Anthony Allen) by a short half-head. The pair was as wide apart as Sydney Heads.

Opinions on the result were strongly divided, with Yorke and owner Harry Milham believing the gelding had been beaten.

“Nicholas rode a very clever race again,” Yorke suggested. “He rated the horse perfectly, used his brain.

“We've given this horse time to mature and it's paying off. I trained his mother (Follow The Flame, by Yorke's Victoria Derby winner Fire Oak).

“Don't be surprised if he steps into the back end of the Ramornie. I don't wish anything bad on the club (Clarence River Jockey Club) but if we get a wet winter, as can happen, he's shown he loves it wet and excels racing at Grafton.

“There's that John Carlton, then the Ramornie.

“You never know. We haven't seen the best of this horse yet.”

Ross Stitt, the trainer of Southern Shimmer and elder statesman jockey Robert Thompson are ardent admirers of the three-year-old.

Despite being unsettled on the heavy track, Thompson, giving the gelding several cuts with the whip in transit, coaxed the gelding to hit top gear over the final 200m. Southern Shimmer scored by 2¼ lengths over Eye Might and Ally Echo in the Coffs Harbour Deep Sea Fishing Club Benchmark 65 Hcp (1620m).

“What can I say, he's a nice horse,” Stitt said proudly. “We'll head to Wagga for the Murrumbidgee Guineas now, then back for the Grafton Guineas.”

Widely travelled Thompson, in his mid-50s and with more winners than anyone in Australian history – more than 3620 – surprisingly has never ridden at Wagga.

“If Southern Shimmer goes, I go,” Thompson said. “I was happy with his win today. He's a big, long-striding horse. He hasn't really been suited by wet tracks. His class has got him through.

“He's still learning and Ross has troubles keeping weight on him.

“I've like this horse, since I won on him over 1000 metres, but his future is over 1600 metres and further. I've got no doubt he'll run 2000 metres. In six months he should develop further into a very nice horse. Hopefully the best is yet to come.”

Gallagher, like Yorke, has been patient with Prince Oka, and the three-year-old made it back to back wins at Grafton in the Roches Hotel Benchmark 55 Hcp (1420m).

Gallagher purchased Prince Oka's dam (Zoffmena) as a yearling, having a strong liking for the family.

“She got strangles before she raced and was never any good,” Gallagher lamented. “But she's thrown this bloke, an up and coming horse.

“He's a horse on the improve.

“I fancy him a bit as a Guineas type.”

Prince Oka was ridden by local apprentice Anthony Allen, who is just another example of the great array of talented junior riders in the Northern Rivers area. They are products of Racing NSW's apprentice scheme, nurtured and guided adroitly by Malcolm Fitzgerald and others on the panel.

Stitt and Thompson finished with doubles, with Clan McLymont (Belinda Hodder) winning the Coffs CEX Club HCp (1100m) and Thompson combing with two-year-old Alcancia, trained by Jenny Graham, in the North Beach Bowling & Recreation Club 2YO (1100m).

And while Graham hopes Alcancia can qualify for one of the rich juvenile events during the $1.8 million Scone carnival on May 13 and 14, a start in the Southern Cross Ten two-year-old event during the July carnival hasn't been ruled out.

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