Raid on Lion City 'perfect' for Thumbs Up
Caspar Fownes is eyeing the Singapore Airlines International Cup with Thumbs Up after the stayer's powerful display lumping top weight in the Group Three Premier Plate, and the trainer is keen to avoid the current crop of local middle-distance stars.
Thumbs Up carted 133 pounds, with a brilliant ride from Brett Prebble guiding the gelding from gate 12 of 12 to settle closer than expected, and then time his finishing sprint to perfection.
With the Dubai-bound trio of Ambitious Dragon, California Memory and Xtension creating a logjam in the quality domestic races between 1,600m and 2,000m, Thumbs Up best distances, Fownes said a second overseas trip for his seven-year- old had added appeal.
'He has been entered for the 2,000m race in Singapore and it looks a nice race for him,' Fownes said. 'The horses around here are just so strong right now, so we've just got to see what form they're in and where they go. He is not far off them, when he brings his 'A' game he is a top-quality horse.
'He deserved that win, because he has had his share of problems.'
Fownes was referring to the horse's bleeding issues, which were helped by warm weather yesterday and he is likely to get similar conditions for the International Group One in May.
Thumbs Up was ninth in the Yasuda Kinen (1,600m) towards the end of last season, but Prebble said another run anti-clockwise over a more suitable trip would bring out the best in a character-filled horse he called 'a real dude'.
'He is a funny horse to ride and a bit of a character,' Prebble said. 'You've got to wake him up in a race sometimes, then all of a sudden he is all there. He is a pleasure to ride though, even around the stables he is just a no-fuss horse with a good attitude.
'I think that race in Singapore is perfect for him, I've been saying it for a long time,' added the jockey, who rode the horse in Japan.
'A fast-run 2,000m is perfect for him. I'd also like to race him anti-clockwise again, I just think it will suit him, and if they get a bit of rain, like they can in Singapore, he'll love it.'
This victory was the first time a horse had carried more than 126 pounds to victory in the six runnings of the race, and Fownes said it wouldn't have happened without a ride he called 'absolutely perfect'.
'We didn't want to be dragging him back and he landed right where we wanted him,' Fownes said.
Prebble said he was conscious of the long run from the 1,800m starting point and not setting his mount too much of a task with the big weight.
'Most people probably didn't expect to see me there,' he said of the one-off, midfield position. 'He can take that sort of closer position over the trip, just trying to put him that two lengths closer with the big weight.'
'They went along at a nice gallop and it suited him.'