Northern Rivers trainers John Shelton and Terry McCarthy have turned to 4kg-claiming apprentice Leah Kilner to help improve the chances of a couple of their key runners at Ballina on Monday.
Grafton-based Shelton has booked Kilner for Prince Of The Turf in the Slipway Hotel Benchmark 65 Hcp (1250m) while Ballina-based McCarthy has engaged the apprentice for Foxy Walk in the Sky Central F&M Benchmark 61 Hcp (1000m) and Star Of Harada in the ZZZFM C,G&E Benchmark 55 Hcp (1000m).
Kilner, the daughter of Grafton trainer Greg Kilner, only launched her riding career on Boxing Day at Ballina, booting home a winner for McCarthy aboard Paroo River. She has ridden three subsequent winners since her first day of riding - two for her father (River Encore and She's Choosie) and another winner for McCarthy (My Cousin Rhett).
Shelton was keen to utilise Kilner's 4kg claim to offset Prince Of The Turf's original impost of 64.5kg.
"Leah rides pretty well and you have to use that allowance when you get a weight like that (64.5kg)," said Shelton. "He's a pretty easy horse to ride and will just go forward from his outside gate."
Shelton, however, is wary of the weekend weather forecasts though. The Ballina track on Friday morning was rated a heavy 9 after receiving 27mm of rain over the previous 24 hours and a total of 71.5mm for the week. Further rain is forecast on Saturday and Sunday.
"The weather forecast certainly doesn't look promising over the weekend," said Shelton. "But if we do race on a heavy track, he'll (Prince Of The Turf) probably still run. He gets through the ground okay, although a quick back-up on a heavy track second-up isn't ideal. My other runner Excellero probably wouldn't run first-up on a heavy track though."
Prince Of The Turf has won two of his six starts since joining Shelton's stable last year, after previously being trained on the Gold Coast, firstly by John Morrisey and then by Les Kelly.
The five-year-old resumed at Grafton last Sunday for a close fourth to Elite Dubleo over 1000m.
"He had a good prep last time in and then put in another good run first-up the other day," said Shelton. "He'd missed a bit of work prior to his first-up run and he hit the front inside the 200m but just faded a bit. He had a good blow after the race and will strip a lot fitter this time. And he does have a very good record at Ballina."
Prince Of The Turf has won three of his four starts at Ballina, including two of three starts there over Monday's 1250m trip.
Kilner will take over from Glen Colless on Star Of Harada for the McCarthy stable if he runs in the Benchmark 55 Hcp (1000m). Colless has ridden Star Of Harada in each of his three starts for two wins, most recently when he resumed at Ballina on January 19.
Steven Phelps is one trainer who will be hoping Monday's meeting goes ahead on heavy ground to drastically boost the chances of his mare Aquajewel in the Benchmark 61 (1000m).
All four of Aquajewel's career wins have been on heavy tracks - including her most recent wins at Ballina. She scored on a heavy 9 there on November 6 and backed up a week later to score on a heavy 10.