Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
The Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival options remain wide open for the Kris Lees-trained Prized Icon, the dual Group 1 champ looking to return to winning form second-up in Saturday’s 2018 Apollo Stakes.
Newcastle horseman Lees is still unsure exactly what distance best suits his smart More Than Ready four-year-old, the entire formerly prepared by James Cummings.
Prized Icon did impress his current trainer however first-up on January 27 when second to Lanciato in the Listed Carrington Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill.
“I was really pleased considering he’d been off for a long time,” Lees told The Daily Telegraph.
The Mark Newnham-trained Kiwi expat Lanciato won the Carrington Stakes carrying 53kg, while Prized Icon was brave in defeat carting a hefty 60kg off a lengthy spell.
The duo face off again in the Apollo Stakes field, the advantage this time going to Prized Icon at weight-for-age with the duo to meet equal on 59kg.
“He’s a four-year-old stallion and with time off you’re not sure how they’re going to react but he was showing positive signs on the track so it was good to see him do it on race day,” Lees added.
“I think he’s worked well since and has come on the right way and he’s a lot better placed under these conditions.”
The $1.8 million earner has not won a race since his success in the Group 1 VRC Derby (2500m) as a three-year-old back in 2016 with Cummings.
That was Prized Icon’s second elite level success, the now very valuable stallion prospect having also won the Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m) as a two-year-old in Sydney.
Lees has been struggling to get the horse back to that top level, but Prized Icon has shown good ability at a mile more recently when runner-up in last autumn’s Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m).
This season Lees has thrown in a nomination for a host of upcoming ‘The Championships’ races at Randwick in April including the Group 1 $3 million Doncaster Mile (1600m) on April 7.
There is also a chance Prized Icon will prove a stayer once again, Lees also entering him for both the Group 1 $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) and Group 1 $2 million Sydney Cup (3200m) over more distance on April 14.
The former is the likely grand final target for Chris Waller’s reigning champion Winx, who was originally set to run first-up in the Apollo Stakes before the suspension of Hugh Bowman.
“I’m still not convinced of his proper distance yet,” Lees said of Prized Icon.
“Often Derby winners can be a bit misleading. I think 2000m is his probably his ideal trip.
“He doesn’t look like a stayer and I’m very open [about his autumn campaign].
“He’s a quality horse and he’ll run well. There’s a lot of positives there.”
To back Prized Icon this weekend and over the autumn at the right price head to Ladbrokes.com.au today.
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