Trainer Kris Lees has named the Group 3 Newcastle Cup (2300m) and the Group 1 Metropolitan Handicap (2400m) as the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival goals for imported German stayer Hathras.
Hathras had a very impressive first preparation after being bought to Australia by Australian Bloodstock at the end of 2012.
After running third on debut in Newcastle, the son of Dansili scored back-to-back wins in the Endeavour Packaging Services Handicap (1800m) at Rosehill and the Hunts Comfort Inn Handicap (2200m) at Warwick Farm.
Lees threw Hathras in the deep end by entering him in the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) but the progressive stayer was far from disgraced and finished only two and a half lengths behind winner Fiveandahalfstar before finishing a disappointing sixth at the end of his campaign in the Group 2 Chairman’s Quality Handicap (2600m).
Hathras is penciled in to resume at Royal Randwick next Saturday and Lees believes the rising five-year-old will return to the races as a much more mature horse.
“He has come back in good shape,” Lees told TVN.
“I would say he is a little more dour this time, he is settling a lot better.”
Lees has set Hathras for a similar spring campaign to the one undertaken by fellow imported stayer Glencadam Gold who came from nowhere to win the Group 1 Metropolitan Handicap and start the 2012 Caulfield Cup (2400m) as favourite.
Hathras will contest the Newcastle Cup at his home track on Thursday September 19 before returning to Sydney for The Metropolitan Handicap on Epsom Derby Day at Royal Randwick on October 5.
Lees has had previous success in the Metropolitan Handicap, after winning the race with gutsy stayer County Tyrone in 2004, and is searching for his first Group 1 victory since Samantha Miss won the Crown Oaks (2500m) in 2008.