Trainer Paul Messara is certain Panzer Division has more to offer than being reduced to a mere support role in the Spring Champion Stakes.
In a Group One finale to the Sydney spring at Randwick, Flight Stakes winner First Seal and the unbeaten Godolphin colt Sweynesse absorb most of the market percentage in the $400,000 race.
But Messara insists there is room for Panzer Division to be rated a legitimate chance to upset the two favourites.
As much as he is confused by the lack of buzz around Panzer Division, he is just as positive the colt can figure in the finish despite drawing the outside of the nine runners.
“I think he is a bit of a forgotten horse when you look at the form in this field … and I can’t see any reason for it,” Messara said.
A $6 chance, Panzer Division will bring weight-for-age form into the Spring Champion after ending up midfield behind Cox Plate favourite Sacred Falls and Epsom Handicap runner-up Royal Descent in the George Main Stakes.
“I thought it was a very solid run and I think he is going to improve a lot,” Messara said.
First Seal has been the best-backed runner on the strength of trainer John Thompson’s decision to give the filly her chance against the colts and geldings a week after a Group One win against her own kind in the Flight.
She is a $1.85 favourite ahead of Sweynesse ($3.50) who comes through a traditional Spring Champion lead-up after winning the Gloaming Stakes to take his record to four wins from four starts.
Thompson can’t find fault with the way First Seal has coped since the Flight Stakes.
Likewise, Panzer Division made Messara a satisfied trainer after a neat piece of trackwork on Tuesday.
“He just breezed up three furlongs on the bridle and did it really well,” Messara said.
There is a family connection for outsider Lie Direct to run better than his $71 quote but unlike Messara, his trainer Steve Englebrecht figures it’s a two-horse race.
Lie Direct is a half-brother to the 2011 Spring Champion placegetter Darci Be Good and Englebrecht will be delighted if the inexperienced stayer can match his sibling.
“He’s a really nice Zabeel three-year-old but we’re really going around for minor prize money,” Englebrecht said.
“The 2000-metres will suit him, back to racing against three-year-olds will suit him, but running into (Sweynesse) and John Thompson’s horse (First Seal) won’t suit him.”