Neil Lee says Canna Lilly has benefited from a long break and is forward enough to run a bold first-up race in the Mount Barker Veterinary Hospital Handicap (1100m).
Lee has chosen to take a patient approach with the promising Blackfriars mare after she posted a sparkling maiden win on debut at Albany almost 12 months ago.
He brought her back for a brief two start campaign in February including a tilt at Ascot where she ran a cracking fourth, beaten a half-length in a blanket finish to Very Special.
Very Special, from the Grant Williams stable, has run three consecutive placings this campaign against top company including Outlaw Pete and He Or She.
In a field of 14 Canna Lilly starts from barrier eight for apprentice Starley and rounded out her preparation with a comfortable trial win over 1000m.
“She is a lovely horse who is well bred and I think she is an up-and-comer,” said Lee.
“She had the winter off to develop and mature and she has come back a stronger horse.
“She is a late foal and developer but has acquitted herself very well.
“I believe she can develop into a city horse but there is plenty of cheap talk in racing.
“She will have one or two more starts before I consider racing her in Perth.
“Her trial was good and she is definitely forward enough to run a race first up.”
Lee is optimistic stable mate Catzilla can have an impact when she tackles the Thank You Shire Plantagenet Handicap (1100m).
Lee is hoping the Bearcat mare can reach last season’s consistency of three wins and nine placings from her 16 start campaign.
The five-year-old hasn’t raced since May and blew out the cobwebs when sixth to Canna Lilly in a warm up trial.
“I have to admit she was disappointing in the trial but it wasn’t run to suit when they crawled early before sprinting home,” said Lee.
“She performed exceptionally well last season and was a model of consistency throughout.
“This race is as short as she will want it but I’m expecting a big performance.”
Catzilla, who has found the money in six of eight starts at Mount Barker, had drawn barrier four for apprentice, Kate Fitzgerald.
With the claim Catzilla carries 55.5kg. Fringed, to be ridden by Shaun Meeres, lumps top weight of 60kg.
The former New South Wales galloper has yet to land a knockout blow since joining Don Wall’s stable but he should relish a class drop.
He has finished seventh in each of his three WA appearances and ran on to be 3 ½ lengths adrift of Ysmael at Ascot on November 15.
RWWA: Julio Santarelli