Patrick Payne has both Lord Of The Song and Chaparro in the 2015 Grand Annual Steeplechase field and the leading jumps trainer is happy with both horses heading into the $250,000 event this afternoon.
Lord Of The Song finished third behind Chaparro in the 2014 edition of the Grand Annual, but he stamped himself as a leading contender for this year’s race when he recorded a dominant 13 lengths victory in the Great Eastern Steeplechase (4950m) at Oakbank on April 6.
The Song Of Tara gelding has now had over a month between runs and Payne told Racing Ahead this morning that he could not be happier with the nine-year-old heading into the Grand Annual Steeplechase this afternoon.
“He is really good and he is in really good shape,” Payne said.
“I think this year he has had a little bit of time between runs because Easter was quite late last year and I think he is actually going into the race a little bit better than what he was last year.”
Chaparro outstayed a gallant Palermo to win the 2014 edition of the Grand Annual Steeplechase, but he has been unable to record another race win since.
The High Chaparral gelding returned to jumps racing with a credible fifth behind Regina Coeli in the Great Southern Steeplechase (3200m) at Ballarat on April 23 and he was at the tail of the field throughout in the Procon Development Sky Heights Handicap (2080m) Cranbourne on May 1.
While the performance of Chaparro in the Procon Development Sky Heights Handicap does not look particularly impressive on paper, Payne said that he was happy with the performance of the eight-year-old and he believes the run was the ideal Grand Annual Steeplechase lead-up for last year’s winner.
“That was a pretty good run for him at the stage that he is at,” Payne said.
“He is ready for the Grand Annual and he only got beaten by nine lengths in a 2000 metre event at Cranbourne, which is pretty good for him.
“He was really warming up late and that is the program we normally follow with him – we give him a good hard, flat run six days before the race and that holds him in good stead.”
Lord Of The Sky is currently available at 2015 Grand Annual odds of $2 and is a clear favourite from Regina Coeli ($3.60), Chaparro ($5.50), Dhaafer ($12) and Seeking The Silver ($12).