Trainer Henry Dwyer has revealed that the 2015 New Zealand Cup could be a spring option for Group 1 winning stayer Sonntag.
Sonntag relished the step-up to 2400 metres when he made his debut at Group level with a victory in the 2014 Queensland Derby, but he was unable to make the step-up to weight-for age racing in the autumn and he finished towards the tail of the field in the Group 1 Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 14, the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at the same venue on February 28 and the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 14.
The Teofilo gelding produced slightly improved performances in the Listed Mornington Cup (2400m) and Pakenham Cup (2000m), but he relished the step-up to 2800 metres when he took out the Macau Handicap (2800m) at Flemington on May 9 and he was far from disgraced when second behind La Amistad in the Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes (3200m) at Flemington on May 23.
Dwyer admits that Sonntag likely lacks the quality to be competitive in races like the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) and Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m), but he believes that the four-year-old is a genuine stayer that would relish the tough 3200 metres of the Group 3 New Zealand Cup.
“He is probably not quite at the top level amongst the staying ranks in Australia but he is pretty capable on his day,” Dwyer told The New Zealand Racing Desk.
“He won a reasonably weak Queensland Derby but showed staying is his game with a win over 2800 metres at Flemington two starts ago before finishing a nice second in the Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes over two miles after that.
“He went out for a break after that run and in the meantime we have been looking at the options for him during the spring.
“The New Zealand Cup fits the bill so we’ve decided to have a shot at it provided we can get all of the logistics worked out.
“Unfortunately there is no direct flight from Melbourne to Christchurch so we are looking at what is available.
“There is a flight from Sydney to Christchurch so we are exploring that and what opportunities there are for him in Sydney before he would come across to New Zealand.
“There aren’t any suitable races for him in New Zealand before the Cup so it is most likely going to be a one race campaign there.”
The form around Sonntag’s Queensland Derby has been franked in New Zealand; with fourth placegetter Rock Diva taking out the Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m) at Ellerslie earlier this year.