Punjab Rocket set for take off
GRAFTON trainer Hunter Kilner admits to being low on ammunition for this year's $1 million July Racing Carnival but hopes to fire his first salvo with Punjab Rocket in Thursday's $20,000 John Carlton Quality (1200m).
Kilner, who has made a big impact at previous carnivals, has just two horses in work at present - Punjab Rocket and Carmela Miss.
Both horses however are in great form.
A win by Punjab Rocket would propel him into calculations for the $150,000 Crowe Horwath Ramornie Hcp (1200m) on July 9.
The winner of the John Carlton is exempt from ballot for the time honoured Listed Ramornie.
Kilner, who has been around the traps long enough to know his horses limitations, won't make any decision on the Ramornie until after the dust has settled in the John Carlton.
While the weather has been kind, Kilner is one trainer who would like some wet weather for both Punjab Rocket and Carmela Miss.
"I'll just play it by ear," Kilner said of the Ramornie decision should the five-year-old win on Thursday.
"He mightn't be up to the class of a Ramornie. If it was wet I could change my mind.
"If we don't go that way there's a Ratings 70 handicap on Grafton Cup day that might suit him better."
Punjab Rocket has been in ultra-consistent form with three wins and two second's from his past five starts.
With the John Carlton barrier draw scheduled for today, Kilner left no doubt about his feelings.
"If I had my choice I'd have barrier one every time," he suggested.
Carmela Miss has won her past three starts and Kilner is eyeing a Ratings 55 handicap on South Grafton Cup day (July 6), for the mare.
The John Carlton drew a large 22 nominations. Among the entries is last year's Ramornie winner Youthful Jack who recently won a trial at Port Macquarie.
The other feature race on the opening day of the carnival, the $20,000 Westlawn Finance Grafton Cup Prelude (2200m) attracted 11 entries.