Trainer Luke Thomas has no concerns about Princess Lottie stepping up to the 1200m at Coffs Harbour on Monday and is looking forward to his promising filly's clash with the unbeaten local galloper Northern Knight.
In what shapes as one of the most interesting races on the seven-race program, Princess Lottie takes on the Brett Bellamy-trained Northern Knight in the Top 50 Club Class 2 Hcp (1200m).
Princess Lottie is unbeaten in her two runs over 900m and 1000m this campaign while Northern Knight has won both his starts after debuting in a Port Macquarie 3YO Maiden (1006m) on July 31 then posting another impressive win in a Class 1 over 1200m at Lismore on August 15. Princess Lottie has given renowned horseman Thomas the perfect start to his training career after taking out his licence on July 1. After breaking-in and pre-training a lot of quality horses for other stables in recent years, Thomas decided the time was right to give training a go.
"I'm 35 now, so have cut back a bit on the breaking-in," said Thomas, who is based at Glendon Brook, about 50km north of Cessnock.
"I've done a lot of breaking-in and educating of Paul Perry's horses over the years and after The Mission - a horse I'd done a lot of work with - won the Champagne Stakes earlier this year, I thought the time was right to give training a go myself."
Thomas also did a lot of early work with Princess Lottie when she was trained by John Bannister.
"John's a good mate of mine and he was actually training out of my property for a while and I had broken her in and also ridden her in a lot of her trackwork," said Thomas.
Princess Lottie was placed in four of her five starts as a two-year-old when trained by Bannister, including a good second to Joe Cleary's promising filly Lucy Rose in the $101,000 Wellington Boot (1100m) on March 12.
Princess Lottie kicked off her three-year-old season in fine style when she resumed for Thomas in a Cessnock Maiden on August 1, clocking a slick 50.42 for the 900m.
The Shrapnel filly then stepped to 1000m to win a Class 1 Hcp at Taree on August 18.
"She had a good spell after the Wellington Boot and then resumed to win in very fast time at Cessnock even though she was being eased down," said Thomas.
"She pulled up so well after her last win at Taree, I thought why not head to Coffs Harbour and tackle the 1200m while she's cherry ripe fit. It's also a good chance to give her the experience of travelling away.
"She's got a great turn of foot and I've got no doubt she'll be even better suited stepping up to the 1200m than she has been in winning over 900m and 1000m when we've had to bustle her up a bit.
"Northern Knight also looks a nice prospect so it should be an interesting race.
"My filly just keeps on improving and the best is yet to come. Down the track we'll look at heading to town for a TAB Highway race and I'm also looking ahead to next year's Country Championships."
Jockey Belinda Hodder continues her association with Princess Lottie, who has drawn awkwardly in barrier 10 on Monday while Northern Knight jumps from gate eight.
"The gate's a bit sticky, but I'll have a chat to the owner and Belinda, before mapping out a riding plan," he said.
Princess Lottie is raced by Lee Balmer who only paid $2000 for the filly at the Inglis Sydney Weanling Sale. She has already returned almost $63,000 from her seven starts to date.
Thomas has two other runners at Coffs Harbour on Monday - the ex-Gerald Ryan-trained galloper Escapado in the Young Members Maiden Plate (1300m) and first-starter Dorreego in the Carlton Mid 3YO Maiden Hcp (1200m).
"Dorreego should make a nice horse down the track but he's by Primus and they tend to need a bit of time," he said.
"But Escapado can run a nice race fresh. His trial at Newcastle the other day was very good. The 1300m might be a bit short for him, but if he gets the breaks and the pace is on he can run a big race."
Escapado was placed in two of his eight starts for Ryan and is resuming since finishing fourth to Calabash Express in a Hawkesbury Maiden over 1500m on April 13.