Trainer Paul Smith admits More Thunder can be a hard horse to gauge on the training track, but expects a strong showing from the five-year-old when he returns from a lengthy lay-off on his home track at Coffs Harbour on Monday.
More Thunder, who last raced in the Country Championships Wildcard Qualifier at Muswellbrook on April 1 last year, returns to racing in the Mr Innocent Benchmark 66 Hcp (1215m).
The gelding felt the firm ground when finishing a long last of the 14 runners behind Don't Give A Damn at Muswellbrook and has been off the scene ever since.
He had won his two previous runs of that campaign - back-to-back wins at Coffs Harbour on January 14 and March 25.
"He was progessing nicely at the start of last year," said Smith.
"I ended up having to give him about six weeks between his two wins at Coffs Harbour. After he won first-up here I thought he'd earned enough points to get into the Country Championships Qualifier at Grafton, but he ended up getting ballotted out of that race. So then I targeted the Wild Card Qualifier at Muswellbrook and he won again here at Coffs before he ran in that race.
"He really felt the hard track at Muswellbrook. He's had a few issues with fetlocks and joints, so we decided to give him a lenthy break after that."
More Thunder on Monday will have to carry the topweight of 60kg with senior rider Ray Spokes aboard, but Smith thinks the five-year-old's excellent record at Coffs Harbour and solid first-up statistics are definite plus marks.
More Thunder wins a trial at Coffs Harbour on February 24
All of More Thunder's four career wins have been at Coffs Harbour and he has finished out of the place just once in nine starts on his home track. His seven previous first-up runs have returned two wins and four placings.
"He can be a hard horse to get a line on as he's not much of a trackworker - he only does just enough," said Smith.
"But I think he's definitely fit enough to win first-up. He won his trial here (Coffs Harbour) the other day (February 24) quite well, although he probably didn't beat a great deal.
"It won't be easy on Monday first-up with 60kg, but he usually races well fresh and he does love it here at Coffs. And there should be a bit of 'give' in the ground as well, which will suit him.
"He has an excellent group of owners and he's been good to us so far - hopefully there's a few more wins in him to come."
More Thunder's rivals in Monday's race include fellow Coffs Harbour galloper Vacate, the Kris Lees-trained duo Kedah and Belle Xaar, and the Gold Coast visitor Snipstream.
Vacate looks particularly hard to beat from his ideal alley (barrier three) and with the benefit of apprentice Kyle Wilson-Taylor's 3kg allowance.
The Brett Dodson-trained four-year-old goes into Monday's race at his third run this campaign following a first-up third in a Class 2 over 1000m at Port Macquarie on January 25 and a last-start fourth to Eyebea Danser in a Benchmark 66 over 1250m at Taree on February 9.
Former promising Sydney galloper Go Daddy Go looks well placed to win his first race in almost two years when he lines up in Monday's Mr Gold Fire Class 1 & Maiden Plate (1615m).
Now with Ballina trainer Stephen Lee, Go Daddy Go started his career with Anthony Cummings, winning the $125,000 Clarendon Stakes (1300m) for two-year-olds at the Hawkesbury Cup meeting on April 29, 2017.
Go Daddy Go was off the scene for a year from late 2017 before resuming for Stephen Lee in December.
He looks hard to beat in Monday's race at his fourth run back and coming off a last-start close fourth to Wallander in a Benchmark 66 at Ballina on February 18.