The plan for most horses racing on the provincial circuit is to win a couple of races there and slowly work their way up in grade into the better races.
Maybe a start at a metro meeting, maybe a Listed race and for some maybe even more than that.
Few manage to run the length of this pathway and only a tiny fraction will get as far as a Group 1 start but King Lionheart did just that for Gai Waterhouse.
After running three times and breaking his maiden midway through last year the gelding really started to show promise when resuming in December of 2010.
He won over 1400m at Newcastle in a Class 1 and then again over 1550m at Canterbury in a Benchmark 70.
From there he ran second three times in a row at around the Benchmark 75 grade before winning again over 2200m at Warwick Farm.
That earned him a Queen’s Cup start but he tailed off towards the back of the field.
The work had been done though and last spring he debuted with a 1500m win at Rosehill and backed it up by winning the Shannon Stakes at the same track and distance.
It finished with a disappointing run in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap but the fact he’s got that far shows he’s now a genuine black type horse.
Nash Rawiller is his regular rider and says now they know where his strength lies his results may continue to improve.
“Last preparation he put his hand up and showed himself as a good miler and I think he has really found what he is good at,” Rawiller said.
“We have probably worked out that he does better racing fresh over a mile.”
He has been freshened up and will contest the Festival Stakes this Saturday before heading on to the Villier’s Stakes on December 17 at Warwick Farm.
“I can’t fault the way he has freshened up and built back up again,” he said.
“I think he exceeded everyone’s expectations in the stable last time but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go on with it even further this time.”