Leading Victorian jockey Craig Williams is taken with the transformation Loving Gaby has made from spring to autumn.
The Phoenix Thoroughbreds owned filly runs first-up in the Group One Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington on Saturday with Williams looking forward to the clash with Nature Strip.
Williams had his first ride on Loving Gaby when victorious in the Manikato Stakes (1200m) at The Valley in October.
The filly then finished second to Nature Strip in the VRC Classic (1200m) at Flemington on November 9.
Williams has noticed a change in Loving Gaby’s attitude after a recent gallop at Sandown.
“When I was first introduced to her she wanted to get her job over and done with really quick and was quite aggressive,” Williams said.
“When I worked her at Sandown she looked fantastic. She’s a big, strong girl, athletic, and I loved her mannerisms.
“She was very relaxed. She was solid in her work. She didn’t win her gallop but I was happy with the way she worked.”
Williams has since watched Loving Gaby gallop at The Valley and said the filly worked well, leading up her Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained stablemate Bons Away.
“She looks like she’s trained on really well and I know the stable is very happy with her and she’s already proven a Group One winner against the older horses,” Williams said.
“The three-year-olds have shown this season they are a very strong bunch, highlighted by the first Group One of the year being won by a three-year-old (Alabama Express) last Saturday at Caulfield.”
Loving Gaby has had one start on the straight course at Flemington, chasing home Nature Strip and racing a little erratically.
But Williams had a good answer for her waywardness.
“It was probably speed wobbles chasing him,” Williams said.
“He was awesome that day and she handles the straight well.
“He is a serious, specialist sprinter and is undefeated at the track, so it’s a track that suits him to do his best on.
“But I’m looking forward to my girl stepping up and I’m expecting her to run a race, but he’s the deserved horse we all have to beat on his form.”