De Little Engine is among the favourites to claim a third-straight win on his home track at Flemington and apprentice Ben Thompson is thrilled to get a recall to ride the in-form stayer.
Thompson guided De Little Engine to a drought-breaking win two starts ago over 2800m before connections opted to go back to senior jockey Daniel Moor in the non-claiming Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes (3200m), in which the six-year-old gelding streeted his rivals by 4-1/4 lengths.
The Danny O’Brien-trained De Little Engine was also nominated for the Stayers Cup (3200m) in Sydney on Saturday, in which he was given 61kg, but will line up in the Young Members’ Ball Handicap over 2500m at Flemington.
Thompson’s booking means De Little Engine will carry 58.5kg after the apprentice’s 1.5kg claim.
“Danny has got him loving his racing and it’s just great to be back on board,” Thompson said.
“After my claim he carries the same weight on Saturday as when he won with Daniel Moor last start. It’s the same course and he’s back to 2500 metres, but not much changes for him.
“He’s a classy galloper. If he can run up to how he’s been going he’s going to be very hard to beat again.”
Thompson has only ridden De Little Engine in a race twice.
The first was in last year’s Group One Caulfield Cup in which De Little Engine finished ninth.
De Little Engine’s win two starts ago was his first for 18 months and he went on with the job again in the Andrew Ramsden.
He shares favouritism for Saturday’s race at $3.40 with Goathland.
“I’m just hoping he can follow on from his past two starts,” Thompson said.
De Little Engine highlights a full book of rides for Thompson.