By Tony Megahey
After rodeo rough riding, pre-training was less risk and more sustainable for Cessnock’s dedicated young horseman Luke Thomas and when regular winners emerged from his education Luke was convinced there was so much more on offer.
Luke, a father of five, mostly toddlers, and a relative training newcomer, takes ample self belief into Saturday’s TAB Royal Randwick $75.000, Class 2, 1100m Highway with dual Taree winner Superior Witness on 54.5kg for Tim Clark.
With particularly deep nominations, Racing NSW again accommodated country owners and trainers with successive TAB Highway races.
“When my pre-trainers started winning regularly - The Mission won a Group 1 Champagne Stakes - I thought the way the prize money is I can make a go of this, train my own and better myself,” Luke enthused as three-year-old gelding Superior Witness comes off a Taree 1000m heavy track winning double in exception time.
“Some owners also encouraged me to train, supported me when I took out a license in 2017 with a dozen or so.
“We’ve had decent seasons, a good kick starting out was a gelding Asudem winning five races for us and we’ve continued to build.
“My wife Brooke and I have five young kids and that’s sure pressure to ensure a future.
“Originally I was planning rodeo riding in the states, the money is big, but when the kids started arriving all that ended in a hurry,” Luke chuckled.
Superior Witness wins at Taree on January 4
Luke’s stable has been productive enough with 12 winners last season and four more in the new season including Superior Witness who has been dominant with all the way wins in a Taree maiden and Class 1.
“We’d also nommed for Port Macquarie and looked a good thing but he was racing so well, and down in weight, we decided to have a crack in town while he’s eligible for the level in prize money,” Luke explains.
“As a colt, he was a handful, highly strung, stressed out and a fierce puller. He’d shown as much ability as anything I’d had but until we had him gelded, he was just coltish and too hard to handle.
“Kept getting his tongue over the bit and pulling his head off.
“We had to get him onto the race track with a pony and eventually I cut back on his fast work and trained him on the farm.
“That was the turning point. And changing his gear, finding a much thicker bit.
“Now he’s going enormous and he’ll be better with maturity as a four-year-old.”
When Raymond Spokes won on him he said he’s improved lengths off the maiden, nice cruising speed and will win better races for sure.”
While a rain affected track would enhance the chances of Superior Witness, Thomas guarantees, he can be just as effective on firm ground and is capable of leading.
“Plan is to just jump and run.”
In early markets Superior Witness is better than each-way odds against Highway heavyweights The Kosciuszko winner Brett Cavanough (Water Dove) and Terry Robinson (Art Cadeau).