Arabian King (3) finishes hard out wide to win at Grafton earlier in the month.
Arabian King (3) finishes hard out wide to win at Grafton earlier in the month. Adam Hourigan

Shelton's stable star on track to Championships this Sunday

Arabian King's quest to qualify for next autumn's $300,000 Country Championships at Royal Randwick enters another phase at Grafton on Sunday.

"You've got to dream," suggested the four-year-old's trainer John Shelton.

"A lot of horses are obviously going to head that way and try and qualify for the big money race.

"We're in the same boat but you've got to be careful planning it.

"You can't win too many races too soon and there are special clauses to the race.

"Getting our horse right for the qualifying race at Grafton is the long term plan."

Competition for the limited spots available for the new event during The Championship is expected to be intense.

Arabian King lines up on Sunday seeking a hat trick of wins this campaign in the Grafton Hotel Benchmark 70 handicap over 1100m.

Shelton admits it is another rise in class for the lightly raced four-year-old but one he's earned.

"All his runs have been good and he's won both times this time in," Shelton said.

"He's only missed a place once (April 24) and he missed the start that day and nothing went right.

"He's still only a class three horse and he's meeting horses who have won a lot more races but he does get in with a nice weight (54kg) after Kasie Stanley's claim (1.5kg)."

Shelton will make a dramatic gear change on Sunday by taking the blinkers off Arabian King.

"To be honest I don't know whether it's the right thing of wrong thing," the trainer said.

"He had a jump out the other day and went really well without the blinkers on.

"It's hard when they've won two in a row with blinkers on but we'll see what happens on Sunday.

"I think he's a horse that will definitely run 1400 metres and stepping up to 1100 metres on Sunday will definitely suit him.

Shelton also considered starting Arabian King at Ipswich rather than Grafton but the hot weather and the toll a trip would take swayed him to stay at home.

Owner Pat Bramich bred Arabian King who is by Natural Destiny out of Kyamba Star, a mare that won 10 races for Shelton.