The attrition rate for Saturday’s 2015 Aurie’s Star Handicap at Flemington Racecourse continues to rise with the Patrick Payne-trained Ihtsahymn the latest runner confirmed as a non-acceptor for the opening Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival Group race.
A five-year-old son of Ihtiram, the now Plumpton-based Ihtsahymn will still kick off his campaign at Flemington on Saturday but not in the meeting’s feature race.
There are officially 20 sprinters nominated for the $150,000 Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m), but a number of headline entries are unlikely to be among the final field.
Tony Gollan’s Group 1 winner Temple Of Boom is a better chance of running against a small Sydney field in the Group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m) at Randwick while Lee & Anthony Freedman are set to save former top WA galloper Disposition for a $400,000 Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) run at Caulfield at the end of the month.
Now another former Perth-trained runner Ihtsahymn is also out of Aurie’s Star contention with his new trainer Payne set to accept him for a $90,000 open handicap over the 1400m instead based on the more suitable distance for the gelding’s resuming run.
“I put him in the Aurie’s Star just in case he got too much weight in the 1400m race but I think the 1400m will suit him much better,” Payne told Racing Ahead on RSN.
“I thought the straight would suit him but those sprinters in the Aurie’s Star will be too sharp for him and the 1400 around Flemington should be ideal.”
A winner of seven of his 21 starts for over $1 million in prize money, Ihtsahymn was formerly trained in WA by Fred Kersley and hasn’t raced since a disappointing 12th behind Real Love in the Group 2 Perth Cup (2400m) at Ascot on New Year’s Day.
After a lengthy break he is ready to return to the races and debut for Payne who is still planning his exact spring campaign.
“He’s been with me for quite a while, he came here and had a preparation but his action wasn’t right and he had a few things wrong with him so we stopped and put him out for two months and started again,” Payne said.
“This preparation we’re extremely happy with him, he came back in sound and happy and all the way through his work has been very good.
“He had very good form as a three-year-old, he had a flat season as a four-year-old so he needs to get up off the canvas a little bit but I’m very happy with him.
“We’ll nominate him for the better races but whether we have to come back a cog or two we’ll have to wait and see.”
It has been a while since Ihtsahymn was racing in his best form, his last run inside the top three being his second to Respondent in the Group 2 WATC Derby (2400m) as a three-year-old at Ascot in April of 2014.
That followed a strong summer – autumn campaign that included wins in the Group 2 WA Guineas (1600m) and the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) where he beat home cult Perth galloper Luckygray by a quarter length in December of 2013.
Payne is hoping he can get the horse back to that kind of performance this spring in Melbourne starting first-up on Saturday where Ihtsahymn will shoot for his second win when resuming from five attempts.
He is allocated 59kg on the weekend, weights for the handicap led by the returning David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Extra Zero (60kg) who targets the $1 million Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day, October 31, this Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Ihtsahymn will enjoy a two kilogram weight relief however thanks to the claim of in-form apprentice hoop Jordan Childs.
“He’s had a solid foundation but I think it would be unfair to expect him to win,” Payne added.
“He’s definitely not ripped up to win first time out and all I’m expecting is for him to be running on well.”
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