Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
They may not be undefeated like two of their rivals but Randwick – Rosehill Guineas 2013 hopeful Honorius is still a genuine shot at the Royal Sovereign Stakes in Sydney this Saturday according to their trainer David Payne.
The Holy Roman Emperor colt has won two of their 12 starts to date and will be looking to break a winning drought that goes back to May last year when they race first-up in the $175,000 Group 2 Royal Sovereign Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens this Saturday.
Third to spruik three-year-old It’s A Dundeel in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick last October Honorius was last seen finishing a disappointing eighth to upset winner Fiveandahalfstar in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) during the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Payne believes they are better than that run, which was their first look at a distance greater than 2000m, and is looking forward to their return this weekend ahead of the bigger races even though the 1200m is probably short of their preferred.
“He’s done very well off a break, they’ll probably be a bit sharp for him on Saturday but he’s nice and fresh and we expect him to run well,” Payne said.
“I don’t think the pace of the race [Derby] suited him and I think he might have just peaked.
“I think he’ll be in the money I don’t know if he can win it but he’ll be competitive for sure.”
Drawn in barrier nine of nine Honorius will reunite with jockey Glyn Schofield on Saturday who was last on their back for their second in the Group 3 Gloaming Stakes (1800m) back in September.
Schofield also rode Honorius for both of their career wins so far last winter and Payne is happy to have him back in the saddle.
“It’s pleasing for us to have Glyn on board he knows the horse well and rides him in his work,” Payne said.
“We’ve been happy with his two trials his first was really only a soft hit out.”
They do face some quality competition however including two unbeaten three-year-olds looking to remain that way after Saturday’s Royal Sovereign with the now Chris Waller-trained NZ 2000 Guineas winning Kiwi Sacred Falls and the Gary Portelli-trained Rebel Dane.
After Saturday’s run plans are to take Honorius second-up into the $200,000 Group 2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) on March 2 where a likely clash with Gai Waterhouse’s star colt Pierro would be on the cards.
“At this stage he’ll go to the Hobartville following Saturday unfortunately for us Pierro is going there as well,” Payne said.
Honorius is also nominated for the $600,000 Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington in Melbourne that day but it is unlikely they will be ready for that challenge just two runs back.
Current Australian Guineas odds are led by last weekend’s CF Orr Stakes winner All Too Hard ($2.30) followed by the Peter Moody-trained Manfred Stakes winner Royal Haunt ($6.50) who runs in the CS Hayes Stakes in Melbourne this weekend.
Further down the Australian Guineas betting markets at a double figure quote of $61 punters can find Honorius, a price that is sure firm if Payne changes plans and decides to back them up in the big event.
At this stage though their major targets are the $500,000 Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) at Warwick Farm on March 16 and then the $500,000 Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) a fortnight later during the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival
“He’ll go the Randwick Guineas and then on to the Rosehill Guineas,” Payne said.
“He is in the Derby but we’ll see how he goes in the Rosehill Guineas before we decide whether to run him or not.
“We’re looking at the Rosehill Guineas as his potential grand final.”
The $1.5 million Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) runs at Royal Randwick on April 13.
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