By Ray Hickson
If Redzel can defend an Everest, then why can’t Belflyer go back to back in The Kosciuszko?
That’s what slot winner Matthew Turner figured as he gave the John Shelton-trained eight-year-old the chance to prove his upset win in the inaugural running of the $1.3 million race was no fluke.
The 29-year-old from Narrabri, whose uncle used to be a trainer, works locally for a company called Grain Corp so has seen first hand the effects of the drought in the country and is looking forward to experiencing everything TAB Everest day has to offer.
“I think it’s unreal, a bloke from the country like me to get a chance to pick a horse,’’ Turner said.
“Hopefully he can go back to back, I like to see champions win again. I’ve always wanted to go to Royal Randwick so it will be a first and hopefully we can come up with the goods.’’
Turner joins the winning slot holders from last year – Northern Beaches trio Thad King, Nathan Lavers and Richie Butterworth – who are eager to win the race as an owner in the gelding having negotiated 10 per cent of the horse as part of their 2018 deal.
So it’s been a different experience for them this time around waiting to see if their horse would be snapped up.
“I don’t like this side at all. We were expecting the phone to ring a bit earlier,’’ King said.
“It’s going to be sensational to be back there, all we wanted was to be involved again.’’
Trainer John Shelton now has two horses in the Kosciuszko with Belflyer joining recent Randwick placegetter Tarbert in the October 19 race and both horses are at $15 in TAB’s market.
It's a far cry from the $71 the gelding started when he downed Suncraze and Awesome Pluck last year.
Shelton said jockey Adam Hyeronimus will travel to Grafton on October 1 to ride Belflyer in an official trial while Tarbert will contest a 1000m open handicap on the same day as his major Kosciuszko lead in.
“I couldn’t be happier with the horse, he had a nice easy gallop on the course proper at Grafton this morning and we’ll start to screw him down shortly,’’ Shelton said of Belflyer.
“He’s very effective fresh and he’ll probably have a couple more dash ups after that trial and he’ll be ready.
“He’s never run a bad race since I’ve had him so I’m always confident. He’d try to win the Everest, he’s that sort of horse.’’
Tarbert was selected by Glenhaven’s Tony Cahill and Shelton said the seven-year-old, who ran second to Baller last Saturday, is a similar horse to Belflyer.
“They both get back and love to hit the line. It’s a tough race as we all know, the best country sprinters around NSW, you’ve just got to do your best to have them right,’’ he said.