A $67 ante-post price in Epsom Handicap 2015 betting will firm for the Jason Attard-trained Sons Of John if the up-and-comer can win a ballot exemption into the Group 1 in Saturday week’s $200,000 Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1400m).
Low-key horseman Attard has around a dozen horses in work, the standout being his progressive Oratorio five-year-old Sons Of John.
A winner of six of his 15 starts to date, the gelding has progressed through the ranks with his benchmark rating improving from a 62 to 93 thanks to a string of good runs last preparation.
His last two starts in the winter produced back-to-back wins including an impressive two and a half-length victory over Tales Of Grimm in the Group 3 Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m) on June 7.
That was the horse’s opening black-type start and showed he was ready for some even tougher Sydney Spring Racing Carnival assignments this campaign.
He trialled at Rosehill on August 17 over 900m when just over half a length away third to Nostradamus and had another jumpout at the track on Tuesday.
Lining up in the first heat of the morning over 1030m, Sons Of John ran second to winning six-year-old Slate On Edge from Brisbane.
The same trial featured current Golden Rose favourite Vancouver who failed to catch the eye running third with the blinkers on.
Over the closing 200m jockey Tommy Berry took the whip to Gai Waterhouse’s Golden Slipper winner, but the horse failed to make up ground and Sons Of John was able to run past Vancouver in the straight.
On the line Slate On Edge, who posted a winning time of 1.01.8 including the last 600m in 35.1 seconds, held a long head margin over Sons Of John with Medaglia D’Oro colt Vancouver a further one and a half lengths back in third.
It was an impressive trial for Sons Of John who now heads towards the Theo Marks Stakes at Rosehill Gardens on Golden Rose Day, September 12, looking to win the ballot free ride into the $1 million Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Royal Randwick on October 3.
“Obviously the winner of that race is exempt from the Epsom so that would be a great thrill but we’ll see how he goes,” Attard told Racenet.
“He did very well in the time that he had off and he went really nicely in his first trial.”
The last Epsom Handicap winner to come immediately off a Theo Marks Stakes run was Final Fantasy (2001) who improved on an 11th in the Group 2 to win the Group 1 in an upset as a 50/1 roughie.
Futures Epsom Handicap odds at Ladbrokes.com.au for this year’s edition of the classic are led by John Thompson’s Group 1 winning filly First Seal ($7) who runs in this weekend’s Tramway Stakes at Randwick and the Chris Waller-trained Doncaster champ Kermadec ($8) who holds a Chelmsford Stakes nomination in Sydney on Saturday.
Sons Of John meanwhile is further down the Epsom markets at an outsider’s price of $67 and will be ridden by Jeff Penza in the Theo Marks on way to a possible Group 1 run.
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