A week after Winx proved she was back and as good as ever, stablemate The Autumn Sun will be out to confirm his claims to the mantle of Australian racing’s next big star.
The Chris Waller-trained colt is the odds-on favourite to make a winning return in Saturday’s Group Two Hobartville Stakes (1400m) against eight rivals, headed by first-up Eskimo Prince Stakes winner Gem Song.
The benchmark three-year-old of the spring, The Autumn Sun has turned in two inconclusive barrier trial efforts but an unfazed Waller remains satisfied the star colt is on track for a stellar autumn.
Unbeaten three-year-old Vegadaze will be among his rivals, along with progressive colt Purple Sector who flashed home from near the rear for second to Gem Song in the Eskimo Prince.
Trainer John Thompson is hoping Purple Sector can continue to improve and feature during the autumn, particularly when he steps up in distance.
“He ran very well and when he gets out to a mile he’ll really come into his own,” Thompson said.
“He’s going super.”
The Hobartville will be an important guide to the Randwick Guineas (1600m) on March 9 with The Autumn Sun the dominant early favourite for the Group One race, ahead of Gem Song and Purple Sector.
Arrowfield Stud’s John Messara says any decision on The Autumn Sun’s other targets will not be made until after the Hobartville and the Guineas.
Messara has invested in The Autumn Sun who will be a replacement for his ageing sire Redoute’s Choice and is wary about talk of Royal Ascot with indications the colt will head to stud at the end of his three-year-old career.
“I’m not certain this is the horse we can do it (Ascot) with because he is potentially so valuable,” Messara told Sky Racing.
“We have had to pay a huge amount to buy into him. I’d be worried about the dangers, not of getting beaten so much, but of sickness, travel sickness that sort of thing happening
“He is our replacement for the great Redoute’s Choice who is a rising 22-year-old this year.
“I went into him with a view that he would be a stallion for Arrowfield in the next short while.
“Having said that, if he goes through and is very dominant it is attractive to carry on a bit.”
Arrowfield also stands champion sire Snitzel, another son of Redoute’s Choice.