Sonntag will step-up to 3200 metres for the first time in the 2015 Andrew Ramsden Stakes at Flemington tomorrow and trainer Henry Dwyer is confident that the staying trip will not be an issue for the Queensland Derby winner.
The Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) was the original autumn target for Sonntag, but connections were forced to reassess their plans for the four-year-old after he made a slow start to his autumn preparation and will now get their opportunity to test the grinding stayer over two miles.
Dwyer told Racing Ahead this morning that Sonntag has always given him the impression that he would have no problems running out a strong two miles and he feels the weight could be the only option for the Teofilo gelding.
“I don’t think there is any doubt about the two miles,” Dwyer said.
“That is always the indication that we have been given by the horse that the further the better and he is an extremely clean-winded, athletic horse.
“We don’t have to do too much to get him in that condition and he just does it himself because he is a naturally athletic horse.
“Obviously the weight is an issue tomorrow, but at the 2800 he was probably going away from Crafty Cruiser on the line and the trip should suit.”
Sonntag scored an upset win in the Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) in the 2014 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival and he won the Sale Cup in the spring, but he was completely outclassed in races like the Group 1 Orr Stakes (1400m), Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) and Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at the start of his autumn campaign.
The Darley castoff produced improved performances in the Listed Mornington Cup (2400m) and Pakenham Cup (2000m) before he returned to winning form with a tough victory in the Macau Handicap (2800m) at Flemington on May 9.
Dwyer admitted that he was feeling the pressure heading into the Macau Handicap, but he said that he had always been pleased with the form of Sonntag and was just grateful that he had finally had things go his way in a winnable race.
“I was under the impression that the horse was going as well as he could right through the preparation and he was terribly unsuited in races through no fault of the horses or ours, but there were just no other options for him given the rating and the weight,” Dwyer said.
“It was good having runners in those races, but you get sick of it and I am sure the horse was getting sick of going around and getting flogged every week.
“He got to the Mornington Cup and he ran an improved race there because of the drop in class, but he just didn’t have the speed to be there early and he was a bit far back and he needs to get rolling.
“Pakenham Cup was good to and he finally got into a race where he could settle in the first four over 2800 and he went really well last start.”
Sonntag is currently available at 2015 Andrew Ramsden Stakes odds of $7 with Ladbrokes and he is currently locked in a battle for favouritism with Saab Hasan-trained Shoreham ($7).