It was no laughing matter at the time, but Thomas Lyttle couldn’t help but see the funny side when his Highway Handicap history was revisited before Classic Conquest heads to Randwick.
The Moruya-based trainer’s last Saturday runner in Sydney made the journey from the NSW south coast but Gatto Mondo refused to jump in a 1500m Highway at Rosehill last Christmas Eve.
“We don’t want to go into that run,” Lyttle said.
“She stood in the gates and didn’t come out. She had ability but was quite difficult.”
Fortunately Lyttle does not expect a repeat when Classic Conquest makes her Sydney debut.
The five-year-old mare’s last three starts, culminating in a win at Goulburn over 1200m on September 2, convinced Lyttle to take her on the four-hour drive north.
“Originally we expected she’d be having a spell right now but the last few weeks we’ve changed her prep a bit so she gets a break after every start.”
He said the only concern was the Highway’s 1000m trip was short of ideal.
“It’s probably a bit short for her but I guess it more of an 1100m run with that hill (at Randwick),” he said.
Lyttle has a maximum of eight horses in work near the Moruya River.
“Being where we are right next to the beach there and right next to the river … it’s a different sort of lifestyle for a horse on the coast,” he explained.
“It’s a holiday for them. I think that’s why some of these horses can crack on for a couple of months more than your average racehorse.”