by Geoff Newling
BELFLYER has never run at Ballina in his 42-start career but might be ready to make an auspicious debut on Sunday.
The John Shelton-trained gelding son of Bel Esprit has drawn ideally in Sunday's feature $20,000 Community Cup (1400m) and with regular jockey Ben Looker aboard is well placed to add to his blossoming prizemoney.
Belflyer goes from barrier two in the Community Cup and comes off some impressive efforts of late.
Four runs back he was only beaten by landmarks in the Casino Cup then stepped out to win on his home Grafton track before heading west and annexing the 1400m Moree Cup.
Shelton then took him to Ipswich for a no metro wins 1350m and he ran a good race, finishing sixth beaten just over three lengths.
In all he has won eight of his 42 starts and been placed another 10 times for $140,435 in prizemoney and will be Shelton's only runner at Ballina.
"He should run well,” Shelton said, although admitting his weight (58.5kg) might be a major handicap.
"It's been killing him. Most of the others are all claiming and he's got to give them at least four and half kilos. But he does have a good gate and Ben knows him well.”
Looker was apprenticed to Shelton at Grafton and since becoming a senior jockey has been riding winners all over the north of the state.
"(Looker has) really come into his own,” Shelton added.
So, too, has Belflyer.
The wins at Grafton and Moree were impressive and Shelton believes the "eight day back-up” from Ipswich won't harm him.
"We haven't done a lot with him (since Ipswich),” he said.
"He had a terrible gate there. Had to go back but couldn't get in and then got a mile back.”
He believes the barrier (two) and Ben Looker's knowledge of Belflyer will be pluses for him in a race where last start winners On Demand and Splinter could be his biggest dangers.
On Demand won the Untamed Sprint at Lismore and has just 54kg with Robbie Fradd to ride. Splinter, also trained at Grafton by Hunter Kilner, comes off a last start Bowraville Cup win. Carla Dougherty also claims 3kg giving the Grafton gelding 51.5kg and barrier one.