GRAFTON'S leading trainer, John Shelton, is the first to admit the stable lacks quality ammunition heading into this year's XXXX Gold July Racing carnival but hopes to fire a salvo or two, adopting the old adage ‘little fish are sweet'.
“This is probably the smallest carnival team I've had. It happens in certain years,” Shelton said philosophically. “There's nothing jumping out on the front page as far as quality horses go.
“Without being detrimental to anyone, on exposed form, Grafton this year probably lacks quality horses. The visitors might clean up.
“For the first time in ages we mightn't even have a local in the Ramornie with Forestreno (contested the past five Ramornies) not going around. Maybe something's hidden and will jump out of the ground.
“Owners want to run their horses through the carnival. Hopefully we can find the right ratings type races to suit our horses but we won‘t be figuring at the top end.”
Shelton is still sorting his carnival team but has seven-year-old warhorse Innocenttassie and Darshan Joh pencilled in for the $17,000 John Carlton Cup (1200m), on the opening day of the carnival, Westlawn Finance Prelude Day, on July 7.
Innocenttassie finished runner-up in the 2009 John Carlton before winning the Maclean Cup (1400m) on the final day of the five-race meeting festival of racing. The gelding finished third last year.
“He'll follow a similar program this year,” Shelton said. “I'm happy with how he's going. He looks a treat. We know he loves Grafton.”
Darshan Joh, a four-year-old winner of six from 23, resumed with a 2.9 lengths fifth at Coffs Harbour on June 23.
“Innocenttassie and Darshan Joh are probably the stable picks, the horses of ours, to follow over the carnival,” he said.
Ibalance, part-owned by Clarence River Jockey Club director Garry McCormick, heads to Bowraville Sunday, Shelton then hopeful of finding a suitable event over the carnival.
In form mare Midnight Honey, raced by Brian and Betty Paine, is likely to start on South Grafton Cup Day (Sunday, July 10).
“I might have a couple of others and a maiden or two,” Shelton added.
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