Newcastle trainer Kris Lees will let his smart three year old Guard Of Honour earn his stripes before he tackles any feature races during the 2017 Sydney Autumn Carnival.
“We won’t be throwing him in the deep end unless he earns his right to race in those type of races and it will be one run at a time,” Lees told The Daily Telegraph.
Guard Of Honour makes his reappearance on the Randwick track in the $100,000 Wilkes 3yo Quality (1000m) on Saturday and has been installed the $2.80 favourite with Ladbrokes.com.au.
The Northern Meteor colt is a winner of two of his four race starts which include his victory in the Listed $100,000 Schweppes Heritage Stakes (1100m) at Randwick on September 17 before running fourth to Spright in the Listed $150,000 Ainsworth Brian Crowley Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on October 15.
Guard Of Honour has drawn barrier two in the six horse field and Lees will be instructing Hugh Bowman to let the colt settle back off the pace.
“I will let Hugh (Bowman) work it out but he won’t be ridden aggressively,” Lees said.
“We are just trying to teach him to relax a little bit more and he has been a bit aggressive in his races to date. His trials would suggest he is getting there from that point of view.”
Guard Of Honour has had two barrier trials in preparation for his return for a second over 845m at Wyong on December 28 followed by a second over 805m at Warwick Farm on January 10 and Lees is expecting a good first up effort.
“He is a nice horse and he has performed well first-up previously,” Lees said.
“Physically he hasn’t changed a lot (since last prep) and he has always been quite an impressive looking horse but mentally he has matured a bit.”
Lees is expecting Guard Of Honour to take a lot of benefit from his first up run on Saturday and can see him handling the step up in distance to 1200m later in his campaign.
“I don’t know if he will get beyond 1200m but I’m sure he will run 1200m,” Lees said.
“If you go back to (the Brian Crowley) he was up on speed in a really high pressure race and the three or four that were with him finished at the tail of the field and the swoopers got over the top of them late.”