Trainer Pat Hyland has been thrilled with the benefit stable star Lizard Island has taken from his time away from racing and has revealed the three-year-old is in great condition ahead of his 2016 Australian Guineas campaign.
Lizard Island was undoubtedly the most underrated three-year-old of the recent Spring Carnival, but stamped himself as one to follow initially when placing a close second to Bon Aurum in the key form-indicating Listed Pin & Win Stakes (1400m) on September 12th.
Progressing to his only race win to date in the Evergreen Charity Raceday Maiden (1600m) on September 23rd, the Sebring colt produced a huge late turn of foot to finish second behind Press Statement in the major Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 10th.
Again finishing second behind Sacred Eye in the Group 3 Caulfield Classic (2000m), Lizard Island has not been seen competitively since failing to get the trip and eighth in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) on October 31st.
Having beaten a number of notable gallopers to the line in a Cranbourne barrier trial on Monday morning, Hyland told Racing Ahead Lizard Island is in excellent condition ahead of his return in the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on February 20th.
“I was very happy with him, he looked pretty good to me and they ran a good time,” Hyland said.
“I don’t think we’ll get further than a mile; that will be about what we’ll be concentrating on this time.
“He ran so well in the 2000m race at Caulfield where we thought he probably nearly should have won which tempted us to have a crack at the Derby. Even if he had luck in the Derby I don’t think he would have won – he might have finished fifth or sixth.
“I was very pleased with him yesterday. He probably ran a little keen in the trial but he didn’t run too keen and that horse Scissor Kick is a pretty good winner in Sydney, so I was really happy with his run.
“He’ll go to the CS Hayes Stakes and then into the Guineas.”
Hyland confirmed a plan beyond the 2016 Australian Guineas (1600m) is yet to be determined, but he will consider races like the Group 1 Doncaster Mile during The Championships should his form warrant it.
“He might come back a better horse this time. He’s a bit older and a lot stronger than he was in the spring,” Hyland said.
“In the spring he was a fairly aggressive horse to ride in work but this time he’s much more placid and I think all of that will help him on race day.
“The way he seems to me, I ride him all of his work, and he just seems a different horse.
“If he won the Guineas it might be tempting to do to the Doncaster.”
Ladbrokes.com.au currently rates Lizard Island a generous $26 chance of success in early 2016 Australian Guineas betting markets.