Ace High won a 1400-metre race as a late-two year-old but trainer David Payne is not pinning his hopes on another short-course victory in the Hobartville Stakes.
What he hopes to see at Rosehill on Saturday is the colt hitting the line hard as the Victoria Derby winner builds into a preparation aimed at more Classic glory and a possible clash with Winx.
“It’s a tough field with the best three-year-olds around,” Payne said.
“It’s going to be too short for Ace High but he needs to race to get the fitness into him.
“He will be much better when he gets up to the 1600 and 2000 metres of the Randwick and Rosehill Guineas.
“He is a much bigger and stronger horse than he was in the spring. He has really come on.”
He finished fifth, beaten 2-1/4 lengths, in the Expressway Stakes (1200m) last Saturday week.
The race was won by Trapeze Artist, the winner of the Golden Rose in the spring and an opponent on Saturday.
Payne and Ace High’s owner John Cordina will decide after the Rosehill Guineas on March 24 whether to aim Ace High at the Australian Derby two weeks later or the Queen Elizabeth Stakes on April 14, or perhaps both.
The Queen Elizabeth is a race also on Winx’s program.
Payne believes Ace High is a better horse than Criterion who he trained to win the 2014 Rosehill Guineas/Australian Derby double.
Criterion was later transferred to David Hayes and finished second to Winx in the 2015 Cox Plate, beaten almost five lengths.
Last-start Eskimo Prince Stakes winner Kementari is the early favourite at $2.30 for the Hobartville with Trapeze Artist at $4 while Ace High is a $26 chance.