Victoria Derby winner Ace High sits at the top of the 17 nominations for the 2018 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
Ace High has had one run back since winning the Group 1 $1.5m Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington on the first day of the 2017 Melbourne Cup Carnival and beat one runner home when fifth to Trapeze Artist in the Group 2 $200,000 Expressway Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill on February 3.
Trainer David Payne believes that Ace High has returned a stronger three year old than he was in the Spring.
“He’s definitely a better horse and stronger,” Payne told Racing NSW News Desk.
“Often a Derby flattens them and over the years you see them not come back but he’s come back well.”
“I’m happy with him, we’re just building him up to his target. If he finishes a length or two off them I’d be happy.”
Payne concedes that the 1400m of the Hobartville Stakes might be too short for Ace High at this stage of his preparation and is looking forward to seeing him race over the longer trips in the Group 1 $600,000 Sky Rosehill Guineas (2000m) at Rosehill and the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick later in the Sydney Autumn Carnival.
“His real targets are the Rosehill Guineas and the Australian Derby. By chance if he wins one over a mile (Randwick Guineas) he’s worth a fortune.”
The Hobartville Stakes is shaping up as a hotly contested affair with the Trapeze Artist, the highly rated James Cummings trained Kementari, the $2m Magic Millions 3yo Guineas winner Pierata and the undefeated colt D’Argento from the Chris Waller stable all among the Hobartville Stakes nominations.
Kementari created quite an impression with his first up win in the Group 3 $150,000 Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m) at Warwick Farm on February 10 with Cummings now aiming him towards the Group 1 $1m Girvan Waugh Randwick Guineas (1600m) at Randwick on March 10.
“That horse is potentially world class,” Cummings told RSN 927’s Correct Weight.
“He just needed runs like that in Melbourne to be showing that sort of ability.
“When you think that he was three-wide in the Caulfield Guineas, and the winner had the dream run underneath him, got the splits and got there.
“His early aim this preparation is the Randwick Guineas.”
D’Argento has only been to the races three times for three wins but will be facing a huge class rise coming off a last start win in a 1300m BenchMark 76 Handicap at Randwick on January 20.
D’Argento is one of six Waller trained three year olds nominated for the Hobartville Stakes, and is joined by Kaonic, Paret, So You Win, Tangled, and Tangmere.
Early betting for the 2018 Hobartville Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au: $2.40 Kementari, $4 Trapeze Artist, $7 D’Argento, Pierata, $10 Siege Of Quebec, $15 Kaonic, Brave Song, $19 Ace High, $26 Assimilate, $31 Paret, $35 Luvaluva, $61 Capital Gain, Renewal, Tangled, $81 Lord Cecil, So You Win, $151 Tangmere.