Promising stayer Five Princes made it three wins from just five starts in his latest campaign when he produced a last-to-first performance to take out the rating 99 2000m event at Riccarton on Saturday. The former North Island galloper has been a revelation since racing returned in June after a COVID- 19 enforced stand-down period, with trainer Centaine Spittle confident there is more to come from the five-year-old.
Five Princes had his first start for Spittles in August last year after doing his initial racing from the Stephen Marsh stable in Cambridge. Despite placing in five of his first twelve starts for Spittles, the Red Giant gelding needed time to mature and to also improve his racing manners.
“I’ve always rated him but he has just taken time to mature both mentally and physically,” Spittles said. “We have found out that he needs to have one run at them as he tends to wait for the others if he gets near the front too quickly. “He got beaten into second in his first start this campaign and really beat himself as he got to the lead then saw the other horse coming so he pulled himself up and waited for them.
“He’s getting older and stronger now and although he has surprised me how well he has handled the heavier tracks I think he is just as good on better ground. “We’re going to give him one more run in a fortnight then I’ll tip him out for a couple of weeks. “He can have a break before we look at some options during Cup Week in November. “A race like the Metropolitan Trophy (Listed, 2500m) would suit and if he went well in it, we might look at the New Zealand Cup (Group 3, 3200m).”
A successful jockey who rode 112 winners in a thirteen-year career in the saddle, Spittles mixed riding and training for several years before giving up riding to concentrate on the training side of things in 2017. “I didn’t have a particular background in racing as my involvement with horses when I was younger revolved around show jumping,” she said. “The horse I was riding got injured doing cross country so I was looking for something to do and went to work for John and Karen Parsons in the holidays. “They convinced me to sign up as an apprentice and that was that.
“When I finished as an apprentice I kept riding and then took on a few to train but that ended up getting too hard as I didn’t have any staff and trying to gear them up and getting someone to lead them in on raceday just became a nightmare. “I just moved to my own property last year and we have that set up nicely now. I have about eleven in training and we have a few breakers as well.”
Spittles admitted that it had been a hard transition to make at times and she has learnt to see things from a different perspective as a trainer. “One of the things I have to remember is that sometimes things don’t always go to plan,” she said. “I think it does help that I rode as I know there are times you get stuck in a situation in a race that you don’t want to be in and that it can happen and when you have a spilt second to make a call you don’t always get it right.”
Spittles is keen to grow her training business and is hoping Five Princes can play a pivotal role in that. “Everyone has big aspirations and I guess you need to take things as they come but we would like to expand and grow our business,” she said. “You are always hoping for that one horse to do that with and hopefully Five Princes could be ours. “His owners have already given me a couple more to train which is great and if he can go on and win some nice races that could see me get a few more.”