Kris Lees happily admits Guard Of Honour sits atop the juvenile pecking order at his Newcastle stable.
He acknowledges the colt’s recent barrier trial win at Wyong was impressive.
But he stops short of making any predictions about Guard Of Honour’s chances in the Group Three Canonbury Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
“He has been the most impressive of the (two-year-old) horses I’ve sent out so far in trials,” Lees said.
“He’s a very nice horse. It’s whether it’s all come a bit quick and as with all two-year-olds, I’m always a bit guarded until I see them race day.”
Early punters have adopted a less conservative approach.
Guard Of Honour opened at $13 and has been backed into $9.50, although the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained Defcon remains the popular $1.95 favourite.
A $300,000 Magic Millions buy, Guard Of Honour is by outstanding sire Northern Meteor and looked a class above his rivals in his four-length trial win at Wyong earlier this month.
He was originally to make a lower-profile debut in a midweek race but the light entries for the Canonbury Stakes prompted Lees to redirect the horse to Rosehill.
“We’ll certainly know where we’re at because it’s a hot field,” Lees said.
There were eight final acceptances for the Canonbury with debutant Star Of Monsoon the second elect on Friday at $4.50.
The Gerald Ryan-trained colt was a narrow winner of a 900m trial at Rosehill on a soft track earlier this month.