Queensland Derby winner Sonntag has made a triumphant return with a barnstorming win in the Sale Cup.
Trainer Henry Dwyer resisted the temptation to target the gelding at the big spring features, preferring not to rush him so soon after his autumn/winter campaign which ended with his Derby win in June.
Dwyer decided on a two-race program – Sunday’s Listed Sale Cup (1600m) and the Group Three Eclipse Stakes (1800m) at Sandown on November 15.
Sonntag was ridden at Sale by Michael Rodd, substituting for Derby rider Chad Schofield who was injured in a fall at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
After getting back, Sonntag ($6) unleashed a superior finishing burst to claim Light Enuff ($26) with Red Inca ($17) third.
The $2.50 favourite Sysmo finished fifth, a length from the winner.
Rodd was full of praise for Sonntag, his trainer and his regular jockey.
“Henry’s done a fantastic job to get him ready here first up,” Rodd told TVN.
“If he was in a bigger stable he would have started shorter but Henry’s a great young trainer.
“I got the ride because Chad’s not here and I hope he’s OK.
“I saw him yesterday after his tumble and he’s an amazing young man.
“He landed on his head pretty much yesterday and he’s broken his neck before. That would have brought back memories and for him to stick on and ride at the Cox Plate at 49.5kg is a massive job.
“I’m sure he’s probably hurting a little bit more now that this horse has won but he’s got bigger wins in store so he doesn’t have to worry about that.”
Scans on Sunday cleared Schofield any fractures.
Dwyer said Sonntag’s spring program had been restricted so he could have another decent break before being prepared for the Sydney Cup in the autumn.
“Obviously the expectation’s there when you’ve won a Group One,” he said.
“The idea was to give him a good six weeks up in Queensland and go to the Sale Cup first-up, the Eclipse Stakes and then back in the paddock.
“Everything’s going to plan at the moment.”