By Geoff Newling
It's unusual to find a trainer represented by the two topweights in one race. Even more unusual that they, Arctic Warrior and Austinmer, have drawn alongside each other in barriers 10 and nine respectively as well.
While it is a plate race and the horses are graded on their age and sex, they are still one and two and will run for Muswellbrook trainer Luke Thomas in Tuesday’s $20,000 Thread Effects Maiden Plate (1600m) at Tamworth.
Thomas accepted with the pair on Friday and intends to run them, booking Josh Adams for Arctic Warrior and Belinda Hodder for Austinmer. Adams is also having first ride back from a nine-day suspension incurred at Kembla Grange on June 2.
Luke Thomas is a young trainer, a horse breaker by trade who elected to take out a training licence 10 months ago. While he is listed as a Muswellbrook trainer, he trains mainly at his 20-acre farm near Glendonbrook, which Luke says is “about 15 minutes out of Singleton towards Gresford”.
“It’s very picturesque down here,” he said. “I’ve also got the luxury of another 2000 acres up the back in the hills and full of trails. I’ve got a 1000m track too with an uphill finish and a swimming pool as well. I go to Muswellbrook for jump outs and gallops (on the grass).”
He said he’s had a “bit of cull this week” and now has 15 in work. A lot are problem horses sent to him but he does have some nice young horses just starting to come through and he also breaks in a few as well.
Of his two top weights, he laughed: “Austinmer came to me as a problem horse, very highly strung, has a lot of ability but a bit of a rev head. I think the 1600m will suit him. Belinda Hodder will ride him. I’ve had a lot of success with her.
“Artistic Warrior came to me as a naughty boy. His run at Cessnock the other day was good on an unsuitable track over 1350m. Josh will ride. I think this horse is looking for a mile.”
He likes Duporth 2yo Asuden who did a bit wrong at Dubbo last start with a “sore tooth”. Luke was looking at Port Macquarie on Sunday with the juvenile but has elected on Tamworth against older horses. Dark Elixir (R6) “is flying at the moment” and going well while Dragoneight is also in at Port and could start there yet, Luke said.
“I think we’ll have a good day up there (at Tamworth),” he said. “They’re all good each-way chances.”