Trainer Lloyd Kennewell is hoping for a solid first up performance from Heart Of A Lion in the Listed $140,000 Kensington Stakes (1000m) at Flemington on Saturday but admitted that the nine year old will be better for the outing.
Heart Of A Lion has won twice first up from eight attempts but Kennewell believes he will be better with Saturday’s run under his belt.
“I think he’ll probably be even better for the run. If he had had one run under his belt I think he would be very hard to beat but usually that one run just tops him right off,” Kennewell told AAP.
Kennewell pointed out that Heart Of A Lion has been troubled over the past with niggling injuries but said he has him problem free heading into his first race start since finishing third in the Listed $120,000 Testa Rossa Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on September 30.
“He’s had his fair share of problems over the years,” Kennewell said.
“He’s come back really nicely and I couldn’t be happier.”
“He usually wins a good race and then ends up having a problem and has to go out and then come back in.
“But he’s in good order. He had a really nice soft jump-out at Caulfield on Tuesday morning and that was the plan leading into Saturday’s first-up run.
“He always gives you 110 per cent and that’s all you can ask for a horse like him.
“He’s a good off-season horse so I think it’s the right time of the year for him right now.”
Joe Bowditch takes the ride on Heart Of A Lion who has drawn barrier three in the nine horse field and Kennewell is hoping for a better performance as compared to his only other run down the Flemington straight which resulted in last of sixteen over 1100m in June 2016.
Early betting at Ladbrokes.com.au for the Kensington Stakes has Heart Of A Lion marked at the double figure odds of $11 while the Bjorn Baker trained Champagne Cuddles is the current $2 favourite on race eve.