The lure of a Melbourne Cup is still strong for Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock’s Darren Dance but the chance to have a guest of honour in the 2014 WS Cox Plate proved irresistible to the popular syndicator.
And so it would be, with Dance securing impressive Marco Botti trained entire Guest Of Honour following his Group 2 victory at Ascot (UK) in July.
Dance, along with his wife Liz, visited the Newmarket stables of Botti during Royal Ascot week in June where he first laid eyes on the son of Cape Cross.
“For the past three years we have been concentrating on a Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup type horse,” Dance said.
“This season we decided to venture into the shorter distance horses so we were looking for a miler, 2000 metre horse to come to Australia because we feel there are a number of races that are sutiable for that type of horse, such as the Toorak Handicap, the Mackinnon Stakes, the Cox Plate.”
“We’ve been searching for quite some time and came across Guest Of Honour earlier in the season.”
“We were lucky enough to have a look at him when we were at Prestige Place in June.”
“However the problem at that stage is that he wasn’t qualified but i did like the horse.”
Guest Of Honour won the Group 2 Summer Stakes at Ascot (UK) in July defeating Mull Of Killough and Caulfield Guineas winner Long John and Dance put the wheels in motion to buy the horse and race him in Australia, with the WS Cox Plate his spring goal.
The Toorak Handicap at Caulfield on October 11th is pencilled in as Guest Of Honour’s first Australian start and Dance is quietly confident the Irish bred galloper will find Australian racing to his liking.
“Guest Of Honour is a nice middle distance horse,” Dance said.
“He’s an improving son of Cape Cross, a colt, and his preferred ground is good to firm which is typically what we get in Australia, and he’s a horse that runs on the speed.”
“My view is that he’ll be really competitive in the Toorak Handicap and a win there will see him contest the Mackinnon Stakes and Cox Plate.”
“Craig Williams rode him at Newmarket in July and he puts him on a par with Side Glance, who ran fourth in the Cox Plate last spring before winning the Mackinnon Stakes.”
“Craig said Guest Of Honour has a better temperament and that bodes well for our horse.”
Craig Williams rode Guest Of Honour in trackwork in July with a camera in his helmet - View here
Guest Of Honour is expected to contest the Toorak Handicap at Caulfield, the WS Cox Plate at Moonee Valley, and the McKinnon Stakes at Flemington.
If all goes to plan the guest of honour might very well be Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock’s Darren Dance himself.