Roughie takes country battler to top of Kosciuszko
JOHN Shelton has been training for more than 40 years and it took The Kosciuszko to give him a feeling he'd never experienced before, as he watched Belflyer win the inaugural $1.3 million race.
Belflyer, ridden by Shleton's former apprentice Adam Hyeronimus, revelled in the ground to come from behind and beat a fast-finishing Suncraze by half a length.
Shelton was overcome with emotion soon after.
"It's the biggest thrill I'll ever get on a racecourse. It's a day I'll never forget," he said.
"I've never had a bigger buzz and never will have a bigger buzz than this.
"I knew he'd hit the line. That's his trademark. It was a fantastic ride by Adam. He had it planned out and it worked to perfection."
Slot holder Thad King, who has been involved with racing for many year, bought just 20 $5 tickets with a few of his punters club mates.
He was over the moon with the result but within minutes was thinking about next year's race.
"It was amazing. He runs 1600m so we knew he'd be strong at the end on a heavy track over 1200m," King said.
"We were looking for something that could come from behind because we knew there would be speed on.
"We're part-owners now too and surely someone will pick him again next year."
Hyeronimus settled Belflyer towards the rear of the field but started to make ground at the 500m mark and was stalking favourite Don't Give A Damn.
The hoop got Belflyer to the far outside and once he let him go he looked the winner with 200m to go.
"This is so good. To ride it for John makes it even better," Hyeronimus said.
"I was apprenticed to John for the start of my apprenticeship. Ever since I left Grafton, to this day we speak every day."
Hyeronimus knew Shelton had planned Belflyer's preparation perfectly and that the seven-year-old would peak on the day.
But his ride was the cherry on top in what was a perfect preparation from start to finish.
Nothing went wrong for the team.
"John has done a perfect job with him. He knew he was ready to go and he was so confident in him," Hyeronimus said.
"I thought three wide with cover was our spot. I wanted to give him clear room coming into the straight which I did.
"The biggest thing was John said 'don't get there too early'. As it panned out I was there at the furlong (200m mark). He was going up and down and I'm bouncing all over his back. I looked up and thought, 'C'mon, where is the winning post'. Everything worked out though."
Ben Looker told stewards that race fancy Victorem just couldn't get going on the bog track.
"From the 600m to the furlong his wheels were spinning in it," he said.
Kerrin McEvoy said favourite Don't Give A Damn, who finished fourth, tried hard but wanted it a bit drier.
"He just sort of took 100m to warm up and get into his stride and we ended up getting a spot after about a furlong or so, handled the ground okay. He was just level late in that ground," McEvoy said.