Lightly raced Guard Of Honour is set to make his return at Randwick with trainer Kris Lees hoping he can show he has matured mentally to match his physical ability.
Guard Of Honour has only had four starts for two wins including victory in the Listed Heritage Stakes (1100m) at Randwick in September.
His spring campaign came to a close after he finished fourth in the Listed Brian Crowley Stakes (1200m) in October and the three-year-old has caught the eye in two barrier trials leading into his return.
“He’s had a couple of nice trials and he seems to be coming up well,” Lees said.
“We’ve always had good opinion of the horse. I think he’s a really nice horse. He’s a bit mentally immature but physically he’s always been all right.
“Mentally he wasn’t all there yet and hopefully this will be the preparation when the penny drops with him.”
Lees believes there have been encouraging signs on that front in Guard Of Honour’s two recent barrier trials, including his latest last week when he hit the line strongly to finish second under Hugh Bowman.
“I like the way he’s settled nicely in his trials,” Lees said.
“He always wanted to do things a little fierce before, but he settled nicely in his trial the other day. Hughie rode him last Tuesday and was quite happy with him.
“So this looks a nice option to start him off in.”
Lees said Saturday’s Wilkes Quality (1000m) would give him a guide where to head with Guard Of Honour this campaign.
“There’s plenty of options for him. We’re just going to try to assess where he’s at,” Lees said.
Nominations for Saturday’s race for three-year-olds have been extended until Tuesday after eight entries were taken.
Lees has ex-Godolphin galloper Sarajevo returning to Sydney racing with the gelding heading to a 1200m benchmark-85 after his seventh in the Listed Falvelon Quality in Brisbane, his third start since joining Lees.
“He was slow away and never in contention at Eagle Farm in a really fast-run race but he was terrific late,” Lees said.
“That’s probably the story of his career.”
Olympic Academy was runner-up over 1600m at Warwick Farm last start and will remain at that distance in Saturday’s benchmark-85.
The feature race on the program is the Listed Carrington Stakes (1400m) which has attracted 10 nominations.