The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
David Payne’s in-form stallion Honorius has been just off them this campaign but worked well on Melbourne Cup Day morning ahead of his run in Saturday’s 2014 Emirates Stakes.
The Holy Roman Emperor stallion is one of a capacity field facing off in the $1 million Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington Racecourse on the day of the four meeting Melbourne Cup Carnival.
On Tuesday Payne was pleased with the galloper at the track from his five-year-old, Honorius working well over the course proper.
Looking bright and in top condition he ran a smart 1.25.75 over the 1200m and posted 25.95 for his final 400m sectional.
It was exactly the kind of sharp work Payne was hoping for ahead of the Emirates after the Sydney-based horseman opted to skip last weekend’s Victoria Derby Day races with the middle distance galloper.
This season Honorius has had five runs but is yet to finish better than fifth.
Still he’s been competitive, especially in his two most recent runs.
Two back at Randwick on October 4 he was under two lengths away fifth behind the Chris Waller-trained import He’s Your Man in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) in an honest and surprising run.
The Epsom Handicap also produced subsequent Group 2 Crystal Mile (1600m) winner at Moonee Valley on Cox Plate Day Hooked, the John Thompson-trained four-year-old one of the headliners in the Emirates Stakes field.
Honorius meanwhile went from the Epsom to the Group 3 David Jones Cup (2000m) at Caulfield on October 18, getting pulled a little wide before boxing on well to finish 2.5 lengths away fourth to Contributer.
He gets the chance to turn the tables on his last start conqueror too with the John O’Shea-trained Contributer also accepted for the Emirates Stakes.
European import Contributer only debuted for O’Shea on Caulfield Cup Day with his nice Group 3 win, third placegetter in the race Signoff trumping the form by winning the Lexus Stakes on Derby Day then rounding out Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup First Four behind the German-trained winner Protectionist.
Honorius is out to break a lengthy winning drought, which is likely to add to his value in the Emirates Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au, not having won a race since the Group 3 Craven Plate (2000m) in Sydney in October last year.
He’s also had just the one previous run at Flemington as a three-year-old back in 2012 when eighth to Fiveandahalfstar in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m).
This weekend Dean Yendall has the ride, Honorius drawn in barrier 11 (of 16), which will be his first time in the saddle.
One thing in Honorius’ favour is the 54kg weight allocating, meeting the top weights River Lad and The Cleaner four kilos better off, which is a drop down from the 57kg he had in the David Jones Cup last time out.
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