Trainer Pat Hyland is not happy that both the Australian Guineas and Royal Randwick Guineas will be run on the same day again in 2016, but he remains keen to run Lizard Island in the weaker Group 1 event.
Hyland predicted at the start of the 2015 Spring Racing Carnival that Lizard Island would be a Caulfield Guineas contender and the Sebring colt finished a gallant second behind Press Statement in the Group 1 event before he finished second again in the Group 3 Ladbrokes Caulfield Classic (2000m) at Caulfield on October 17, but he failed to run out a strong 2500 metres in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington on October 31.
The veteran trainer told Racing.com that he is keen to keep Lizard Island to races over a mile during his autumn campaign and he said that both the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) and Group 1 Royal Randwick Guineas (1600m) are on the agenda for the three-year-old ahead of a potential crack at weight-for-age level in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m).
“We will probably finish off in Sydney next year,” Hyland said.
“He will run in races here early, but he will end up going to Sydney.
“The Guineas is run the same day as the one here and we might try and pick the weakest one of them.
“I think we will keep him for the mile races this prep.
“He didn’t have all the luck in the Derby, but he probably couldn’t have won the Derby if he had been ridden absolutely perfectly.
“We certainly wouldn’t go further than 2000 and I think we will concentrate on mile races.
“I haven’t picked anything out for him because he is a horse that is eligible for anything – including a class 1 – because he has only won the one race.
“We will take the easiest ones that we can find and build him up gently.”
While Hyland is unsure about the exact path that Lizard Island will follow during the autumn, he is very pleased with the physical condition of the three-year-old ahead of his upcoming campaign.
Hyland revealed that Lizard Island was never completely out of work, but he said that the talented colt had still improved significantly following his tough performance in the Victoria Derby.
“He is fantastic,” Hyland said.
“He didn’t go completely out of work, we kept him doing a little bit at home at the farm.
“He is very fresh and he is in great shape.
“He has gotten bigger and thickened up over the hindquarters.
“He has built up like a horse that has had a nice preparation.”
Lizard Island is currently available at 2016 Australian Guineas odds of $21, while Xtravagant ($5.50) is a narrow favourite from Press Statement ($7), Tarzino ($8), Mahuta ($8.50), Palentino ($11) and Jameka ($13).