Bad manners delayed the start of Altonio’s career but trainer Leon Davies has turned him around and the five-year-old is now ready to show his staying potential starting with Saturday’s Winter Cup.
The Warwick Farm feature will be Altonio’s first test at 2400 metres, but one Davies believes he will pass with ease.
Altonio began racing little more than a year ago after efforts to get him to the races earlier were thwarted by his refusal to go into the barriers, resulting in him being sent to Davies at Tamworth.
“He was bought as a yearling at Karaka in New Zealand and then he went to Queensland but he had barrier issues,” Davies said.
“They couldn’t get him passed to race and after the last straw he came to me.
“I’ve had success with a few other horses with those sorts of issues.
“Those are all behind him now. I’ve not had a problem with him.”
Altonio won his debut in March last year and his subsequent 11 starts have yielded another four wins and a third last time out behind Sour Mash and Tunes and the metropolitan meeting held at Scone.
He was one of 14 entries for the Listed Winter Cup with Group One winners The Verminator, Once Were Wild and Mirjulisa Lass among the nominations along with last year’s winner Legsman.
Davies took Altonio to Melbourne last year where the gelding ran a pleasing seventh behind Lamasery in the Listed Johnnie Walker Stakes (1800m) on Cup day.
The familiarisation with Flemington may stand Altonio in good stead in the future with Davies keen to step him up to the Cup distance of 3200 metres.
“I took him to Melbourne on Cup day and I was extremely happy with how he performed,” he said.
“The further the better for him.
“He will run on Saturday and then we want to run him over 3200 metres in the Stayers’ Cup two weeks later.”
The presence of The Verminator means Altonio will not get enough weight for regular partner Kody Nestor and Blake Spriggs is his likely rider.