David Payne will make his first assessment of Regal Rage as he strives to develop another stayer in the mould of dual Group One-winner Ace High.
A week after Ace High won the Victoria Derby at Flemington, the Rosehill trainer will cast a critical eye over the three-year-old gelding at Rosehill.
Regal Rage is the only unraced horse in Saturday’s Schweppes Handicap (1500m) and makes his debut after five barrier trials stretching back to February.
Payne was encouraged by those showings but said trials were of limited use when gauging the progress of a stayer.
“Stayers don’t usually show you much over 1000 metres. They’re much better on the racetrack once they get up to a distance,” Payne said.
“If he was within four or five lengths of them I’d very very happy. He’s looking for 2000 metres.”
Regal Rage has the pedigree to suggest he could mature into a quality stayer.
His sire Reliable Man won a Group Two race over 2400m in France before being sent to Australia where he had two starts for trainer Chris Waller.
He was injured during his win in the Group One Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) in 2013 and sent to stud in New Zealand.
Reliable Man’s progeny includes Main Stage who was fifth behind Ace High in the Victoria Derby (2500m).
“The Reliable Mans are doing well at the moment. They seem to stay well,” Payne said.
Regal Rage drew the outside gate in the field of eight which includes stablemate The Mighty Fed.
Payne also runs Be Like Dad on his home track a Benchmark 83 Handicap (1800m).
“He tries his best and he’ll run another honest race,” Payne said.
While the focus on Tuesday was on the Melbourne Cup, Payne watched as talented staying filly All Too Soon broke her maiden in an 1800m-race at Randwick.
She won by 1-3/4 lengths and joins Ace High in the spelling paddock to prepare for an autumn campaign with the Australian Oaks (2400m) on Payne’s wish list.
“That’s in the back of our mind. We’ll step her up and see if she’s up to it once she comes back,” Payne said.
Ace High, who added the Victoria Derby to his Group One success in the Spring Champion Stakes, will be aimed at the Rosehill Guineas and Australian Derby, a double Payne claimed with Criterion in 2014.