The Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) is the most likely 2014 Spring Racing Carnival target for Messene, but co-trainer Wayne Hawkes is not ruling out a potential tilt at the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m).
Messene has won nine out of his 13 race starts to date and took an impressive seven race winning streak into the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Royal Randwick on April 12, where he finished a tough seventh despite failing to handle the heavy track.
Hawkes told Racing Ahead this morning that Messene would most likely be set for the Emirates Stakes at Flemington on November 8, but revealed that those plans could change if the Lonhro gelding proves that he is capable of being competitive at weight-for-age level.
“He had a barrier trial on Monday in Sydney and he went super,” Hawkes said.
“He has only had one blemish this horse in his whole career; he hit a Doncaster Handicap on a bottomless 15 and he didn’t handle it.
“Corey Brown rode him and got off and said ‘is this some sort of horse’ and that was all he said.
“He ran out of his skin even though he ran seventh or eighth in that race.
“I don’t know where we are going to end up with him, but probably an Emirates.
“Is he a Cox Plate horse? Not at the moment because he isn’t weight-for-age and there is a big difference from handicaps to weight-for-age, but if he can make the step-up to weight-for-age we might have to recess it.
“He is another one that keeps jumping big hoops every time that we ask him to do it.”
Messene made his racing debut at Ballarat in February of 2012 and was slowly progressed through the grades by Team Hawkes before making his black type racing debut with a narrow win over Reparations in the Listed National Sprint (1400m) at Canberra on March 9.
The four-year-old stamped himself as a clear favourite for the Doncaster Mile with a dominant three lengths wins over talented imported galloper Weary in the Group 2 Ajax Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 22 before finishing in the prizemoney in the Group 1 event a fortnight later.
Messene is currently available at 2014 Cox Plate odds of $21 and is on top of the 2014 Epsom Handicap betting market at a quote of $9 with Ladbrokes Australia.