A lack of suitable races has forced trainer John Price to place lightly raced William Thomas out of his grade at Caulfield.
Price was hoping to head to benchmark 84 grade after William Thomas won at benchmark 78 level at Caulfield on May 11.
But having to wait another three weeks – altogether six weeks between runs – was too long and Price opted to let him take on open company in Saturday’s MRC Membership Renewal Handicap.
“They sort of force you to race out of your grade at this time of the year,” Price said.
“It’s one of those things, up in class, down in weight, so we’re hoping he can measure up.
“He looks fairly promising so hopefully he can go to the next level.”
Price hopes the off-season sprint will give an indication of the level of competition William Thomas may potentially reach.
He believes the 1100m on Saturday is a suitable distance saying the way he won last time may lead to him one day stretching out to 1400m.
“He goes really good but there’s a far cry between the ability I’ve seen in him and some of our top sprinters, but it’s a good time of the year to step him into it and test the waters,” Price said.
“He maintained a fairly sustained run the other day. There was no real sprint, but he did have 59 kilos, so hopefully with a better barrier he won’t be so far back and he can sprint quite sharply.
“He’s in pretty good shape. He has gone three weeks between runs and did have a couple of flat days a fortnight ago where we went a bit easy on him and missed a gallop.
“He’s still got a bit of race fitness to gain which he’ll get after this run.”
William Thomas is owned by Price’s sister Shirley Prosser, who is flying in from Western Australia for Saturday’s race, and is named after their father.
“My father supported my brother Ross, who trains in the west, and myself in our fledgling years when we were using the petrol out of his bowser to get around,” Price said.