Henry Dwyer’s Sonntag kicked off his autumn preparation with an exhibition gallop at Ballarat on Wednesday, impressing hoop Chad Schofield in the process.
The four-year-old gelding could resume as soon as the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield Racecourse on February 14, so he was sent out for a casual gallop to brush the cobwebs off after two months in the spelling paddock.
Schofield noted that Sonntag was “very casual in his gallop and had a good look around the track”. The jockey was particularly impressed in the performance given the gelding didn’t have the headgear he usually races with on nor did he work with his usual companion.
“I liked the way the horse felt and he’s come back in good order,” Schofield told TVN after the gallop.
“He looked really well, he was shining and he looked nice and fit. After the gallop he didn’t blow much, Henry (Dwyer) has got him where he wants him.”
Sonntag won the Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm during the winter carnival last year but missed the majority of the spring after a spell of four months.
The gelding did manage to win the Listed Sale Cup (1600m) on his return before finishing eighth in the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes (1800m) at Sandown on November 15. Sonntag got planted three wide after trying to get in at the beginning of the race and did too much work early on which meant there wasn’t much left late when he needed it.
Sonntag’s main autumn target is the $1.6 million Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Royal Randwick Racecourse on April 11. This means the 2015 CF Orr Stakes is likely to be the gelding’s only run in Melbourne for the season as Dwyer has hinted at a three race campaign for him in Sydney, including the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 28.
“He will stay all day, he does everything to suggest he will relax. The Sydney Cup should be ideal,” Schofield said.