Comeback hoop Chad Schofield was full of post-work praise for 2015 CF Orr Stakes-bound Sonntag after riding Henry Dwyer’s Queensland Derby winner for a jump-out at Ballarat on Wednesday.
Young Schofield, back in the saddle after suffering two fractured vertebrae after a fall from Classic Charm at Geelong in early December, partnered the Teofilo four-year-old and said he was “back in good order” ahead of his Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival return.
A winner of four of his 10 career starts to date, Sonntag is best known for his one-hit raid on the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival last June.
There at Eagle Farm he backed up from a smart win over 2000m at Caulfield, the gelding relishing a step up to a mile and a half to box on bravely and grab a neck win over Pinstripe Lane in the Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m).
He spent nearly five months after that maturing before his return at Sale in late October where he won first-up in the Listed Sale Cup (1600m).
His latest start saw Schofield, who rode the horse for the first time for the Queensland Derby victory, jump back aboard for what was only a mediocre end to a short spring campaign.
Sonntag raced at Sandown-Hillside in the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes (1800m) but from barrier 10 of 12 got planted three wide and did far too much work early to have much left in the tank in the end where he only managed to battle away for an eighth to Zabisco.
On Wednesday the horse had an exhibition gallop at home at Ballarat with Schofield aboard, the hoop happy with the Sonntag’s demeanor and performance.
“He was very casual and had a good look around,” Schofield told TVN, adding that Sonntag wasn’t wearing his usual headgear and worked solo instead of running with a companion like he usually does.
“I liked the way the horse felt and he’s come back in good order.
“He looked really well, he was shining and he looked nice and fit. After the gallop he didn’t blow much, Henry (Dwyer) has got him where he wants him.”
Sonntag is tipped to return at Caulfield Racecourse in the $400,000 Group 1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) on February 14.
His major aim though is in Sydney later in the autumn, Dwyer looking to stretch him out to two miles for a shot at the $1.6 million Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Royal Randwick on April 11.
“He will stay all day, he does everything to suggest he will relax,” Schofield added.
“The Sydney Cup should be ideal.”
Early all-in Sydney Cup betting markets are now open at Ladbrokes.com.au with Sonntag listed as a $21 chance in markets led by Who Shot Thebarman and Signoff at $7 who ran third and fourth respectively in last year’s Melbourne Cup.
The Sydney Cup will be one of three expected runs for Sonntag in Sydney this preparation with Dwyer also looking at the $1.5 million Group 1 The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 28.
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