Pat Hyland has been around long enough to see plenty of star horses.
The former champion jockey-turned-trainer knows his Listed winning mare Keyarna Blue has little hope of toppling the horse considered to be Australian racing’s next super star in Saturday’s Group Two Stocks Stakes (1600m).
But he would be delighted if Keyarna Blue, an outsider, managed to run second to the unbeaten Atlantic Jewel at Moonee Valley.
Hyland nominated Keyarna Blue for two races with the Stocks Stakes the favoured option until it emerged Atlantic Jewel was going there.
Keyarna Blue was well down the order of entry for a 1600m handicap so Hyland decided to go up against Atlantic Jewel anyway.
“I’m not expecting that we’ll beat Atlantic Jewel but if we could run second or third to her it’s still going to enhance the mare’s breeding prospects, and she’ll have had the run so that we can go a bit further on,” Hyland said.
The Mark Kavanagh-trained Atlantic Jewel made a stunning return after 16 months off the scene when she dominated the Group One Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield to win by 2-1/4-lengths.
It was her eighth win from as many starts and her third Group One.
In the latest World Thoroughbred Rankings released overnight, Atlantic Jewel’s 122 rating has her as the highest-rated Australian horse in training.
“I’d say she’s almost another Black Caviar,” Hyland said when asked to rate Atlantic Jewel.
“Only she’s getting over more ground and she has probably got more scope than Black Caviar in that regard, because she’s probably going to run a mile and a half and she might run two miles, I don’t know.
“She looked terribly awesome at Caulfield the other day.”
The Stocks Stakes is one of three Group Two races on the Moonee Valley program with Atlantic Jewel $1.10 favourite.
She is also favourite for the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley and will be having her second look at the course having won in a fillies race on the corresponding program two years ago at her second start.
Her stablemate Super Cool, winner of the Group Two Vase (2040m) at the Valley last year, is equal favourite with Melbourne Cup runner-up Fiorente to win the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes.