First-up specialist Messene has been installed the early favourite for the Group 2 $175,000 McGrath Estate Agents Missile Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday.
The Team Hawkes trained Messene opened up at $3.20 with Ladbrokes.com.au on Wednesday and even though the seven year old eased slightly to $3.30, he still is at the top of the market order ahead of Temple Of Boom at $4.60.
Messene will be having his first start for almost twelve months after finishing ninth to Dissident in the Group 1 $400,000 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington last September during the 2014 Melbourne Spring Carnival.
The Lonhro gelding has a terrific first up record of three wins and two seconds from six attempts and new rider Tommy Berry expects him to race well fresh but respects the ability of the Tony Gollan trained Temple Of Boom.
“We know he goes well first-up, but against a horse like Temple Of Boom he is going to have to be on his game,” Berry told Sky Racing HQ.
Messene has had two barrier trials to prepare for is comeback run and Berry was aboard him in Tuesday’s Rosehill trial when third to Heart Testa over 900m.
Berry was very happy with the hit out even though Messene wasn’t put under any degree of pressure.
“He trialed really well,” Berry said.
“He did it pretty much on the bit.
“He travelled in third behind Bounding and I loved the way that he quickened up the straight without me asking him to do anything.
“It was only a soft trial because he does race Saturday.
“He only takes light preparations from what the Hawkes team have told me and he hasn’t had many runs, but he felt very strong to me.
“I haven’t ridden him very often, but in his trial he gave me a nice feel and he has felt great when I have ridden him at home.”
Messene was beaten narrowly first up in last year’s version of the Missile Stakes by Group 1 winner Sweet Idea who was ridden by Berry with James McDonald on the Hawkes gelding.
“Last preparation he ran second first-up to Sweet Idea and she is a very quick mare, so he did a good job to run second to her,” Berry said.
Temple Of Boom has been wound up for a good first up performance with two barrier trial appearances at Rosehill and Randwick.
The veteran sprinter ran second over 900m at the Rosehill trials on July 21 then recorded a four lengths win over 840m at Randwick on July 31.
Missile Stakes market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $3.30 Messene, $4.60 Temple Of Boom, $5 Weary, $7 Lord Leofric, $7.50 Burbero, $9 Liberty’s Choice, $16 Zaratone, $26 Aomen, See The World.