Peter Snowden is hoping Golden Slipper disappointment in the autumn can turn to spring carnival glory for talented three-year-old Epaulette.
Epaulette makes his return against a small but stellar cast in the Group Three Run To The Rose (1200m) on Saturday and will follow a path worn by his three-quarter brother Helmet who claimed the Group One Caulfield Guineas last spring.
Waiting at Rosehill in the Run To The Rose will be unbeaten colt Pierro and the highly-rated All Too Hard.
A Black Opal Stakes winner in the autumn, Epaulette came closest of any horse so far to downing Pierro when the subsequent triple crown winner fought back to beat him in the Todman Stakes by a short half head.
Snowden felt Epaulette was “building to run really well in the Golden Slipper” but the colt’s campaign ended on a sour note when he came in at the tail of the field in the $3.5 million event won by Pierro.
Snowden said nothing went right for Epaulette on the day after he was slowly out and then hit the rail after being tightened.
“It was disappointing to see where he finished because you know how much ability the horse has,” Snowden said.
“But look, we’ll make up for it this time through I hope. And hopefully we can get a good race underneath us.”
Epaulette enters the spring fold as the Darley team’s leading prospect.
“I think he’s our most talented horse,” Snowden said.
“But Albrecht, the way he’s going at the moment he’s starting to go pretty well as well.”
Snowden and the Darley team will discuss whether to also go to the Golden Rose on September 15 with Up And Coming Stakes winner Albrecht or take the softer option of the Listed Ming Dynasty a week earlier.
However, the trainer said he wouldn’t hesitate to run both colts in the $1 million event.
Epaulette is on the third line of Run To The Rose betting and will carry 2.5kg less than Pierro and 1.5kg less than All Too Hard.
“He’s fairly forward but we’ve got a four or five run program ahead of us,” Snowden said.
“He’s as good as I can get him for first-up but there’s no doubt he’s going to improve from this.”
Epaulette will head to the Golden Rose and then either the Stan Fox Stakes or Caulfield Guineas Prelude before the Caulfield Guineas.