John Shelton’s gelding Handsome Dane, with track work rider Anthony Allen, starts from barrier one at Grafton tomorrow.
John Shelton’s gelding Handsome Dane, with track work rider Anthony Allen, starts from barrier one at Grafton tomorrow.

Handsome Dane has staying look

A GOOD barrier draw at Grafton tomorrow has heightened the enthusiasm of trainer John Shelton for Handsome Dane’s return to racing on his home track.

“From barrier one with the right run he should be somewhere in the finish,” Shelton suggested of the powerfully built four-year-old.

“I’m pleased with the horse. Happy with the way he’s come back.”

Handsome Dane, a Ben Looker mount, resumes from a 97-day break in the Skyview Photography Benchmark 50 Handicap (1400m).

Owned by a Lismore syndicate headed by solicitor Alister Somerville, Handsome Dane hasn’t raced since its third to Bold Contact over 2000m at Lismore on August 24.

Shelton believes the son of Irish stallion Great Dane has a bright future as a stayer.

“He had a very good preparation last time, ran some handy races,” Shelton said.

“This time up he’ll only have a light campaign, two maybe three runs then he’ll have a break and the owners want him ready to race during the winter and Grafton carnival.

“I think he’s going to stay.

“He’s a nice big horse, good sort and we picked this race out for him to return some time back.

“The tempo of a 1400 metres race will suit him much better than a sprint when they just go too quick form him.”

Handsome Dane has a win and five placings from 10 starts including a good nose second to Flamin’ Lucky in a 1600m Class 2 at Ipswich back on July 19.

Shelton admitted the 60kg impost on Sunday was not ideal but given the gelding’s consistent record ‘earned it’.

“He had a jump out about 10 days back to clean him out and he’s been back in work about nine weeks,” Shelton added.

“He hasn’t had a lot of racing and hopefully his best is ahead of him.

“We‘ll just take it one race at a time.”

Shelton has several other strong chances on the program including stablemates Suchabimbo and Restart in the Richard J Hickey & Co Class 2 (1100m).

Suchabimbo shoots for a hat-trick after two wins at Ballina since resuming.

“He’s up in class and meeting older horses but going along in the right way,” Shelton said.

“Restart was very unlucky last start at Coffs Harbour (November 19). She got skittled at the barriers.

“She too is up in class but a nice filly.”

Restart is owned by West Australian interests.



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