Cranbourne’s Pat Hyland will find the weaker of the two autumn Group 1 Guineas races for three-year-old Lizard Island next month to decide whether he runs in the Randwick or Flemington feature.
Sydney and Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival scheduling for 2016 sees the $1 million Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) and the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) both run on Saturday March 5 over the mile.
It is a tough call for trainers and connections then to decide on whether to run their gallopers in the Sydney or Melbourne race, a choice Hyland will make for his Sebring colt Lizard Island based on the strength of the fields.
“I don’t know why they run the Guineas in Melbourne and Sydney are on the same day but that’s the way it is so we’ll try and pick the weaker one of the two,” Hyland told Racing Victoria this week.
A winner of just one of his nine starts to date, the youngster saluted in a non-black type at Pakenham in September over the mile by three lengths before being tested in elite level company for the first time.
Hyland ran him in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 10 where the galloper ran a brave second to impressive winner Press Statement with Blake Shinn in the saddle.
Next time out he posted another second place finish at the track when stepped up in distance for the Group 3 Norman Robinson Stakes (2000m), Lizard Island beaten a length by Sacred Eye.
Last time out he stepped out further again during the Melbourne Cup Carnival over 2500m in the Group 1 Victoria Derby but could only manage to finish a well-beaten eighth behind Tarzino over 16 lengths from the winner after a luckless run.
Hyland learnt his lesson on Derby Day in late October and won’t run the young horse over that distance again when he returns in the autumn.
Lizard Island is back in work and will be kept to a mile as he chases that elusive Group 1 win to add to his future value as a stallion.
“Even though he didn’t have a lot of luck in the Derby, he probably wouldn’t have won the race even if he was ridden perfectly,” Hyland said.
“We certainly wouldn’t race him further than 2000m but I think we’ll keep him to mile races.”
While plans are to return the maturing galloper in Melbourne, Hyland is focusing on getting him to Sydney for the bigger autumn riches on offer in March and April.
“He’s very fresh but he’s in great shape,” Hyland said.
“He’s gotten bigger and has thickened up over the hindquarters and has really built up like a horse should that’s had a nice preparation.
“He’ll run in races here in Melbourne early in his preparation but I think he’ll probably end up in Sydney.”
Futures 2016 Australian Guineas markets at bookies around the country are led by NZ 2000 Guineas winning Pentire colt Xtravagant and the Chris Waller-trained Press Statement while Lizard Island is also in the top half of the all-in markets at more generous odds.
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