Ballina race day a step in Belladonna's race to Grafton Cup

GOLD Coast trainer David Kelly has a good opinion of mare Lady Belladonna who lines up at the Ballina TAB meeting today.

Lady Belladonna tackles the Richmond River (1600m) race.

Kelly is attempting to qualify the four-year-old New Zealand-bred mare by British stallion Sir Percy for the $150,000 Grafton Cup (2350m) on July 9.

"She's a progressive mare who I think will stay," Kelly said. "Last preparation she won two from four (1400m and 1800m) and has come back a better mare this time. She's only been lightly raced.

"She's a good sort of mare who I'm trying to get ready for the Grafton Cup.

"After tomorrow we should know where we're at with her.

"She's a Class 2 horse stepping up to open company. Ideally I would run her in her own grade but there's nothing much suitable around for her."

Lady Belladonna is raced and bred by Charlie Plumridge who has raced numerous gallopers under Kelly's care including Final Crescendo, Garozzo and Georgio.

The mare is third up into the 1600m event which, said Kelly, "should suit her down to the ground".

Lady Belladonna resumed from a 175-day spell with a 0.8 lengths fourth to Barcelona Bound in a 1400m Class 2 at the Gold Coast on April 11.

The mare then finished 2.8 lengths eighth to Rhodin Drive in a similar event on April 29.

"She should have won her first run back. She was three and four wide throughout," Kelly said.

"Last start she drew wide and we had to go back from the alley. She got forced very wide on the home turn trying to come around them.

"With any luck she probably wins both races. She pulled up in terrific order and trained on really well.

"She's a compact, strong mare, a dream to train who you can put anywhere in a race, forward or back.

"Hopefully she can balance up around midfield and finish over the top of them.

"If she gets through tomorrow well, I'll look to setting a program aimed at the Grafton Cup."

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