TIM Bell knows the Grafton track like the back of his hand and reckons he can win his first Ramornie Handicap with sprint mare Bound For Earth on Wednesday.
Bell fondly remembers being apprenticed to Tamworth trainer Sue Grills and travelling to plenty of Grafton Carnivals in his early days in the saddle.
Back-to-back Brisbane riding premierships are now out of reach for Bell who has 51 wins and sits well adrift of frontrunner Jim Byrne who has 66 wins.
But Bell is determined to have a strong finish to the season and wants to leave his imprint on the Grafton Carnival.
“It has always been a big Carnival for my old boss Sue Grills and when I was with her we always took a big team of horses to Grafton,’’ Bell said.
“I know the track very well as I did a lot of riding there as a NSW country apprentice.
“But I have never won a Ramornie and I think Bound For Earth can be the horse who ticks that box.
“I’ve always seem to have been suspended at Ramornie time so it will be nice to go down to Grafton with a good chance in the race.’’
Gold Coast trainer Toby Edmonds puts the polish on Bound For Earth and the mare is coming off a nice fourth in the Group 1 Tatts Tiara behind super sprinter Srikandi.
It will be a competitive Ramornie as usual but Bells believes Bound For Earth has her hoof on the till.
“There wasn’t much speed in the Tatts Tiara once Srikandi found the front but my mare travelled quite well in the race and wasn’t beaten far at all,’’ Bell says.
“The Grafton track should suit Bound For Earth and I think there isn’t as much depth in the Ramornie as there was in the Tiara.’’
Bell has all but conceded the Brisbane riding premiership to Byrne but says he is proud of his achievement to be running second this season after he won the title last season.
“I haven’t got my tail between my legs just yet but I have to be realistic that Jimmy (Byrne) is going to be almost impossible to catch,’’ Bell said.
“It would have been good to go back-to-back but I’m still really happy with my season.
“Jimmy has been riding really well the last couple of months and had some good support from some nice stables.’’
Originally published as Grafton sounds like Bell chiming