Trainer John Shelton will saddle up recent stable arrivals Belflyer and Prince Of The Turf in today's Matthew McGuren Benchmark 65 Handicap (1406m) on his home track at Grafton and finds it difficult to split the pair.
Belflyer, formerly trained by fellow Grafton trainer Nev Peterson, had his first run for Shelton last start on August 12 when runner-up to Landmarks in the Casino Cup (1400m).
Prince Of The Turf, formerly trained on the Gold Coast by Les Kelly, has had three runs for Shelton - winning a Benchmark 60 Hcp at Ballina two starts back on July 28 before finishing fifth to Kincaple Chief in a Benchmark 65 Hcp (1516m) at his latest run at Lismore last Tuesday.
Both Shelton runners have drawn well today with Belflyer in gate five and Prince Of The Turf drawing barrier three. Senior rider Ben Looker partners Belflyer while Shelton has again booked 1.5kg-claiming apprentice Jarrod Woodhouse for Prince Of The Turf.
"They both look good chances in what looks a pretty hard race, but I couldn't nominate one ahead of the other as the better hope," said Shelton. "One's a get-back horse (Belflyer) and the other one (Prince Of The Turf) goes forward.
"Belflyer ran well at Casino the other day at his first run for me, but I was a bit disappointed with Prince Of The Turf's last run at Lismore but he did tend to pull a bit and will be better off if allowed to roll forward."
Belflyer is yet to win in 11 previous runs over 1400m but Shelton said the trip was not a query for the six-year-old son of Bel Esprit.
"He hasn't won over the trip but has run some very good races over the 1400m and his run in the Casino Cup the other day was pretty good. I think my two will both run well and it might come down to which gets the better luck in the run, but there's a few in the race with chances."
Shelton rates Belflyer and Prince Of The Turf as his best chances on the seven-race meeting ahead of his other runners Porn Star Pete (race two), Famed (race four), Mexican Mountain (race five) and Pat Kash (race seven).
Shelton was glad to finally get a win out of the frustrating Porn Star Pete at Casino last start but isn't convinced the five-year-old can make it back-to-back wins in Monday's C,G& E Class 1 Hcp (1006m). And neither is Porn Star Pete's regular rider Kasie Stanley who has elected to ride the Greg Kilner-trained Riva Encore in that race.
Stanley had ridden Porn Star Pete at his previous seven runs, including his last-start easy win in a Casino Maiden on August 12 at the gelding's ninth race start.
"Kasie's jumped ship," quipped Shelton. "I think she thinks the other one (Riva Encore) has more upside and she's probably right about that. Porn Star Pete probably found his right race at Casino the other day, and I'm not sure if he's got too many more wins in him."
Ben Looker takes over on Porn Star Pete at Grafton. Riva Encore won on debut at Ballina on July 18 and last-start ran into the promising Brett Bellamy-trained galloper Northern Knight at Lismore last Tuesday.