Damien Oliver will get a better feel of the Marco Botti trained Guest Of Honour when the Cox Plate hopeful lines up in the Group 1 $400,000 David Jones NBCF Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
Oliver made the trip to the Werribee quarantine facility on Sunday to partner Guest Of Honour for the first time in a gallop with Spring Carnival contenders Dandino and Van Percy and said that he would get a better idea of his Cox Plate credentials after the weekend.
“How he goes on Saturday will be an indication of where he’s at,” Oliver told Racing.com.
Guest Of Honour is one of seventeen milers nominated for the Toorak Handicap which is one of four Group 1 races on a massive Caulfield Guineas program.
Oliver was happy with the way Guest Of Honour galloped alongside of stablemate and last year’s Caulfield Cup runner up Dandino and the Andrew Balding-trained Van Percy.
“He pleased me; both him and Dandino are in good form, they’re nice and bright and travelled well,” Oliver said.
“(They) worked keenly and went to the line with a little bit in hand I think, which is important.”
Botti’s travelling foreman Paul Francis informed Oliver that there is plenty of improvement in Guest Of Honour who has done well since arriving in Australia from England.
“Paul tells me that the horse has thrived since he has arrived in Australia, he has put on weight,” Oliver said.
“I think that’s important going into a big race in that sort of condition, rather than losing weight and having to put it back on.”
“He’s a lovely type of horse and he’s obviously thriving here; it’s a little bit unknown with the Cox Plate, how he will measure-up.”
“They tell me that on race day he comes on even more, in track work he does sort of what he needs to, so on that basis he could.”
Guest Of Honour comes to Australia in winning form and is a last start winner of the Group 2 £100,000 Fred Cowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile Stakes (1 mile) at Ascot, in England, on July 12.
The Toorak Handicap nominations are loaded with talent and includes the Darren Weir trained Trust In A Gust who is coming off a last start win in the Group 1 $400,000 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on September 28.
Also in the nominations are classy mares Arabian Gold and Commanding Jewel as well as the Chris Waller trained Bull Point who ran third to Trust In A Gust in the Sir Rupert Clark.
The David Vandyke trained Arabian Gold resumed from a spell with an impressive win in the Group 3 $300,000 PJ’s Irish Pub Parramatta Golden Pendant (1400m) at Rosehill on September 27.
While Commanding Jewel finished third to Dear Demi in the Group 2 $200,000 Top Cut Foods Stocks Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on September 26 following her win in the Group 2 $200,000 Let’s Elope Stakes (1400m) at Flemington two weeks earlier.