Class all the way at Coffs
By GREG WHITE
WHILE Thursday's Clarence River Jockey Club at Coffs Harbour meeting was more low key than the weekend's 'Pink Silks' festival, the day unearthed two exciting equine prospects and again highlighted the strength of talent in the human ranks of local racing.
With critics decrying the lack of two-year-old and distance racing in the association, trainers Stephen Lee and Ken Lantry showed why the 'pro' case has clear merit for programming these type of events.
Lee produced expensive youngster Flying Feline who toyed with her rivals to win the Tarraray Belgian Shepherds 2YO Open Handicap.
"The Catbird stock have a very good first-up record and being out of a Rory's Jester mare, she's bred to be a good one," the trainer said.
And while canny Ken Lantry has a reputation for producing top-class sprinter-milers, he showed he can develop a high quality distance horse when appropriately-named Highly Thought Of won the 2300m Ramsay Health Care Handicap.
Fresh from a last-start victory at Port Macquarie the gelding had enough in reserve to find an extra spurt at the end of the staying test to prove he's well above the usual suspects frequenting these types of contest.
"That little sprint at the end was pleasing," Lantry said.
"Considering this is only his second preparation I think he can go on with it."
Part-owner Warren Skinner was more guarded in his opinion of the horse.
When asked tongue-in-cheek if the horse was 'Melbourne Cup material', Skinner replied: "A mid-weeker at Coffs will do us for now."
Trainer Trent Greentree added to his growing reputation when Snackman won the opening event under jockey Jasen Watkins.
Greentree now moves into the 'top 10' strike rates across New South Wales country and fourth place in the track premiership.
The win was Watkins' sixth on the course in three meetings with many judges saying he's now ready to step up to the next rung to challenge Robinson, Graham, Buckley, Robl and Ryan in the top echelon of country-based riders.