Co-trainer Michael Hawkes has confirmed that talented gelding Messene will start his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival preparation in the Group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Messene was sent to the spelling paddock after he had his seven race winning streak ended in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m), but his has been back in work for almost two months and impressed with placings in two barrier trial appearances at Rosehill Gardens on July 21 and August 4.
Hawkes told Racing Ahead this morning that he is happy with the condition of Messene and although he expects him to improve on his first-up effort, is confident that the son of Lonhro has the speed to be competitive in the Missile Stakes this weekend.
“He has done well,” Hawkes said.
“He has come through his trials really good and yesterday was another nice trial; he wasn’t knocked about or asked to do anything over exuberant, but he has done everything right going forward.
“This horse as always got better as he has gone on every preparation and he is bigger, he is stronger and he is actually a lot more relaxed.
“He is going to be right there and he has done everything right.
“Whether they are too nippy for him over the 1200 now, he has relaxed a lot better this time around, but he still has that sharpness about him.
“It is the right race to start him in and whatever he does he will definitely improve once his journeys get up over ground.
“He is a quality horse and we are looking forward to his run on Saturday.”
The Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Royal Randwick on October 4 will be the major 2014 Sydney Spring Racing Carnival target for Messene, but Hawkes said that they will be taking it race at a time with the six-year-old.
“Obviously he is Epsom bound, but this is a starting point and with us the line is in the sand, but you have to zigzag to the final goal,” Hawkes said.
“In saying that it all comes down to how he runs Saturday as to where we go and what we do, but we will let him get over this run, access him and go forward.
Messene made his racing debut in February of 2012 and Team Hawkes have patiently brought the gelding through the grades.
He started his amazing winning streak with a win at Canterbury on March 13 last year and took out the Listed National Sprint (1400m) at Canberra on March 9 and the Group 2 Ajax Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 22 before he produced a quality performance on an unsuitable track in the Doncaster Mile.
Messene is currently on top of the 2014 Epsom Handicap betting market at Ladbrokes Australia at a quote of $9.