David Payne-trained Honorius held off a fast-finishing Masked Marvel to win the Group 3 Craven Plate (2000m) at Royal Randwick this afternoon.
Jockey James McDonald timed his run perfectly on Honorius and the Holy Roman Emperor entire was able to accelerate faster than Masked Marvel, who took a while to get going from the back of the field, and pinch a break that proved the difference in the final stages of the race.
Payne had the opportunity to run the four-year-old in the Group 1 Metropolitan Handicap (2400m) but his decision to enter the Group 1 placegetter for the easier race over 2000 metres paid dividends.
The excited trainer was thrilled with the performance of the emerging stayer and was quick to pay credit to the patient ride of McDonald.
“I said to James early on I want you to run quiet and he said he was going to ask me the same thing,” Payne said.
“He will fight right to the death and this is his optimal I think.”
The Rosehill-based trainer confirmed that he will take Honorius to Melbourne for the remainder of the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival but believes the four-year-old is just short of the class required to tackle the staying events at the highest level of racing.
“He is just below the others but that is how good they are,” Payne said.
“I am going to take him to Melbourne and just look for one of the easier races, duck the big boys, and go and try to pinch another stake.”
McDonald admitted that he was worried Honorius was going to be caught by Masked Marvel in the final stages of the race and said he believes 2000 metres is the best distance for the talented entire.
“It was probably lucky I found that half-length when I needed to; he sprinter really quick for a furlong and a half.
“Masked Marvel was coming at the end and I was a bit worried but he managed to dig deep.
“I wouldn’t want to see him past 2000; I think that he is a good 2000 horse and he runs a good 2000 metres out.”
Melbourne Cup contender Kelinni was well backed in the lead-up to the race but finished at the tail of the field.
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2013 Craven Plate Results & Finishing Order
|1||6||HONORIUS||David Payne||James McDonald||–||2||58kg||$3.70|
|2||1||MASKED MARVEL (GB)||Robert Hickmott||Hugh Bowman||0.2L||4||59kg||$2.90F|
|3||9||VAQUERA (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||Blake Shinn||1.7L||1||56kg||$12|
|4||7||HIPPOPUS (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||Tommy Berry||2.4L||5||58kg||$18|
|5||3||WINNING GLORY (NZ)||David Payne||Jason Collett||2.5L||6||59kg||$14|
|6||5||CANTONESE||Bjorn Baker||Brenton Avdulla||3.6L||3||59kg||$31|
|7||2||KELINNI (IRE)||Chris Waller||Glyn Schofield||3.8L||7||59kg||$3.90|