By Ray Hickson
It’s the trial that has divided observers about just how well racing’s heir apparent The Autumn Sun is going ahead of his highly anticipated return at Rosehill on Saturday.
Champion jockey Kerrin McEvoy, who was on board in the February 11 hitout, has hosed down any doubts over the star colt and expects a first-up win in the Group 2 $400,000 Hobartville Stakes (1400m).
“He hasn’t lost me as an admirer at all with his recent trial performances,’’ McEvoy said.
“I’ve been happy with his trials. He was beaten three lengths but he’s a horse that really turns it on race day and he’s trialled in a nice manner in my mind.
“He got a squeeze at the top of the lane which didn’t help but when I gave him a kick along he got up and rolling the last furlong so it’s not disappointing at all.
“The other horses that beat him home are sharp six furlong horses and his work since the trial suggested he is ready to go race day.''
The Autumn Sun’s task on Saturday was aided with the scratching of second favourite Gem Song but a horse with his record – five wins from six starts – doesn’t need any help.
He’s a rare three-year-old to have won three Group 1s in his first six starts – his sire Redoute’s Choice and Pierro the only others to achieve that feat.
One stat that McEvoy doesn’t need reminding about is that he was on board in The Autumn Sun’s only defeat to date and that was first-up in the spring in the Stan Fox prior to his spectacular wins in the Golden Rose and Caulfield Guineas.
But from barrier three, and drawn next to expected leader Vegadaze, he says there should be no repeat of the Stan Fox for the $1.40 favourite.
“He was unlucky to lose the Stan Fox and it’s a smallish field on Saturday with Gem Song now out,’’ he said.
“Vegadaze has been improving all the time and he looks the leader. We can be right behind the speed if my horse is comfortable there and ride the race according to the tempo.
“It’s exciting to kick off his campaign and 1400m is a perfect trip first-up.’’
The Autumn Sun’s future beyond his second-up target of the Group 1 $1m Randwick Guineas (1600m) on March 9 has not been laid out.
Part-owner John Messara said during the week that trainer Chris Waller has had the colt inoculated for a possible Royal Ascot trip and is non-committal about the race everyone wants to see – a clash with Winx in the George Ryder on Golden Slipper Day.
What did you make of The Autumn Sun's trial at Rosehill on February 11?
McEvoy is just the rider but he said he’d love to see The Autumn Sun race on as a four-year-old.
“He’s now an older three-year-old so he’s a bit more battle hardened and he could be in for his best preparation yet,’’ McEvoy said.
“With the likelihood of Winx not being there next season it’d be great to see him continue on and maybe press out past the mile. I’ve always thought he’d enjoy 2000m.’’
Among a stellar book of rides on Saturday, McEvoy said he’s excited to see what Star Of The Seas ($6.50) can do in the Ranvet Handicap (1350m) after a slashing first-up run.
The Waller-trained four-year-old produced a sizzling last 600m of 32.37 (Punters Intelligence) in his narrow second over 1000m on the Kensington track.
“It was a great run, he just found them a little bit sharp over the 1000m,’’ McEvcoy said.
“I’m sure Chris will have him ready for this trip, he can be competitive in Saturday grade now he’s out to this distance.’’