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One of Brisbane’s premier trainers Kelso Wood will make a sentimental return to Grafton Racecourse for the 2016 Ramornie Handicap next week targeting the sprint feature this winter with Into The Red.
Wood is now in his 70s and has enjoyed an illustrious training career, but when he was just an up-and-coming horseman based in Sydney he was put on the map with great success during the Grafton Cup Carnival.
He prepared ace sprinter High Classic for two Ramornie Handicap spring wins in 1980 and 1982, the former jockey getting his start in the training game as a foreman for champion Randwick horseman Harry Plant before going out on his own.
High Classic’s maiden Ramornie win saw the horse and hoop Noel Smith set a blistering course record that stood for 15 years and remains just one of five dual Ramornie Handicap winners since Cuban Song won four on the trot from 1933-36.
“The first time we won the Ramornie was a real thrill,” Wood told The Daily Examiner.
“It was my first attempt at a carnival success.”
Wednesday week on July 13 this year’s edition of $160,000 Listed Crowe Horwath Ramornie Handicap (1200m) is shaping up as a crack edition and Wood will be represented in the race by Not A Single Doubt five-year-old Into The Red.
The gelding has won five of his 24 starts including the Group 3 W.J. Healy Stakes (1200m) at Eagle Farm last start on June 25.
Into The Red is yet to race at Grafton, but does have Sydney race experience from a few years back during a failed 2013 Golden Rose campaign as a three-year-old.
With the sprinter back in top form, Wood will look to keep the winning streak going in the Ramornie as he attempts to become the race’s most successful trainer in over 70 years.
“This horse has always had a lot of ability but he has always been immature in the head and did things wrong,” Wood said of Into The Red.
“He did a pastern ligament and had six months off last year and that break allowed him to mature.
“I’m looking forward to getting back to Grafton – it’s been a while but I think I have the right horse to win another Ramornie.”
Wood hasn’t saddled-up a Grafton Cup Carnival starter since 2002 when his Ipswich Cup winner that winter Awesome Weather finished under two lengths away fifth to Master Pom in the Grafton Cup (2400m).
In the WJ Healy Stakes on Tattersall’s Tiara Day, Into The Red was ridden by Gold Coast-based hoop Luke Dittman for the third time on the trot.
Wood confirmed Dittman, a son of top hoop Mick Dittman, would retain the ride on Into The Red in the Ramornie Handicap.
“He’s great young jockey and he knows the horse well – I couldn’t take him off,” Wood said of Dittman who rode his first winner as a senior hoop on Caloundra Cup Day last Saturday.
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