While Alligator Blood and Catalyst staged a thrilling duel in the C S Hayes Stakes, the comeback performance of Chenier to finish just behind them has his connections upbeat.
The Anthony Freedman-trained, Godolphin-owned Chenier missed the spring carnival because of a pelvic fracture and raced for the first time in 10 months in Saturday’s Group Three C S Hayes (1400m) at Flemington.
The colt was having his third start and first in stakes grade and briefly looked to have a chance in the home straight.
The leading pair kicked while Chenier worked well late to finish a length behind Alligator Blood and Catalyst on a soft track.
Queensland star Alligator Blood and New Zealander Catalyst now share favouritism at $2.80 for the Group One Australian Guineas (1600m) on February 29 at Flemington while Chenier is on the next line at $7.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Freedman said.
“He was first-up for nearly a year. There’s obviously going to be really good improvement there and he was very strong late.
“He was closing in the last 100 metres.
“He’ll stay here and run again in two weeks. We might get a firmer track and a bigger field and he could run very well.
“I think he’ll run very well in the Australian Guineas. They are obviously two very good horses and they’re obviously going to be hard to beat but he should be improved a lot.
“And he’s only got to make up a length.”