The vibe coming from the stables of co-trainers David Hayes & Tom Dabernig is one of excitement surrounding the autumn return of the Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock-owned import Guest Of Honour.
ATB’s Darren Dance told Sky Sports Radio on Wednesday morning that the horse’s new trainers are excited about the coming season, which will be former British-trained Guest Of Honour’s first for Lindsay Park.
“The reports that Tom Dabernig and David are sending through are very encouraging and they are quite excited about the autumn for him,” Dance said.
Previously prepared by Newmarket’s Marco Botti, Cape Cross stallion Guest Of Honour hasn’t raced since he failed to finish the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25.
That was his second run down under following an also disappointing first-up ninth when beaten three and a half lengths by Trust In A Gust in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) a fortnight before the Cox Plate.
A winner of five of his 16 starts to date, Guest Of Honour is a triple stakes winner in Europe most notably beating Mull Of Killough in the Group 2 Summer Mile Stakes (1609m) at Ascot in July last year.
His major target in Australia during the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival was always the weight-for-age Cox Plate.
He and jockey Craig Williams however got trapped wide during the run from barrier 10 of 14 in the classic, the horse badly weakening late and failing to finish the race won by fellow European Adelaide.
The horse pulled up with an issue after the Cox Plate but is back in light work now for Hayes & Daberning at their Euroa stables in north-east Victoria, enjoying his time out there.
“He’s really enjoyed being up there on the water walker and being let out to the paddock during the day,” Dance said.
Guest Of Honour’s injury was pinpointed as a small area on his hamstring that ATB’s team was able to quickly rectify once the horse came into their care after the Cox Plate.
“Guest Of Honour just jumped out of the gates and that could happen to any horse,” Dance, who jokingly added he was glad 2014 was over after so many horse’s suffering setbacks and being withdrawn from the majors of the spring including Caulfield Cup hope Dandino, said.
“He just pulled his hamstring and once again we bought him home and we had our masseuse and our people go over him head to toe.
“We isolated the problem right back to just basically a 50 mil square on the top of his hamstring .
“Within four weeks we were able to get that really good and we dropped him up to David Hayes and the horse hasn’t looked back since.”
There are no confirmed autumn racing plans for Guest Of Honour as yet but the six-year-old would be well-suited to some of the weight-for-age majors including possibly the $4 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 11.
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