By Ray Hickson
Trainer John Thompson admits it took promising filly Best Stone a little while to work out the racing caper but, as she returns at Randwick on Saturday, now she has found a groove he’s adamant there's plenty more to come.
Best Stone went to the paddock with the confidence up following successive Canterbury wins during the summer and Thompson said he’s seen significant improvement this time around.
And he says she’ll need to take the next step in the Grunt Standing At Yulong Handicap (1100m), a race stacked with horses on the up.
“I think she has come back a little bit better, she’s grown a bit and strengthened up,’’ Thompson said.
“She took a couple of runs to get going, to pick it up, she’s always been honest and the more racing she’s had the better she’s got.
“She’s a progressive filly and all indications are she’s gone to a higher level.”
The three-year-old has been scratched a couple of times of late due to wide barriers but Thompson is committed to starting her off and while she’s again drawn out the Randwick 1100m is hardly tough on those with wide gates.
“If the track plays anything like the Kensington did you won’t want to be on the fence so it might be the place to be,’’ he said.
“She had a nice trial at Canterbury and I tried to give her an easy trial on the polytrack the other day.
“I’ve scratched a couple of times from wide draws, we’ve ended up with another one but we have to run. We can’t wait forever.’’
Best Stone is a $5 chance with TAB and Thompson has a healthy respect for the Godolphin filly Tailleur, the $2.40 favourite, though says she also has to prove herself at a higher level.
“I think it is a nice race for her, obviously Godolphin’s horse won well at Gosford and looks promising but my filly has come back in better order too,’’ he said.
“If she proves she can win a couple of Saturday races she can have a crack at something in black type.’’
Thompson has a bit of thinking to do with regards to where in-form stayer Eugenio ($15) runs in the next week and it may not be the TAB Live Vision Handicap (2400m) at Randwick.
The four-year-old is also nominated for a 2200m Class 6 at Grafton next Wednesday and it’s that race which tickles Thompson’s fancy so if he comes out on Saturday morning that’s where he’ll head.
“The perfect race for him is at Grafton on Wednesday,’’ he said.
“I have to say I don’t know what has clicked him into gear but he’s gone to a new level. He’s got up over the right distance and he’s sticking his head out.
“He’ll run well if he goes to Randwick and if he goes to Grafton he’ll be a real good chance.’’
Best Stone wins a trial at Canterbury on May 29
It’s been a red letter season for Thompson who has trained 34 city winners so far and that’s more than double his tally from 2018-19.
The backbone of that success has been horses like Best Stone, Fituese and company while he also claimed a Group 1 win with Dreamforce in the George Ryder Stakes and has produced an exciting youngster in Mamaragan.
Both Dreamforce and Mamaragan are well advanced in their spring preparations and should be trialling around July 28 while Fituese is due back at the stable on Friday.
“I’ve had a nice group of progressive horses that have strung a few wins together,’’ he said.
“It’s our job to develop nice horses and thankfully this year we’ve been able to do it a couple of times.’’