Trial Starts Slow Autumn Prep For Ace High

Classic winner Ace High will meet up with champion mare Winx in a barrier trial on Tuesday but it will be almost two months before they face off under race conditions.
Tuesday’s 4 1⁄2 f trial at Rosehill is just an early pipe opener for Ace High as trainer David Payne does not intend to start the dual G1 winner until March.
Payne says there is no need to run Ace High in sprint races and will take him along steadily with at least one more trial before he resumes in the G1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on March 2.
The $600,000 Chipping Norton is also on the agenda for Winx, no surprise as she has won the weight-for-age feature for the last three years.
However her final racing program is set to begin on February 16 when she resumes at Randwick in the Apollo Stakes (1400m), a race she won twice in 2016 and 2017 but bypassed last year due to the unavailability of her regular jockey Hugh Bowman.
Tuesday’s trial is chock full of Group stars with Winx drawn against nine rivals including Alizee, Ace High and her stablemates Endless Drama, Performer, McCreery and The August.
It will be the first trial for Ace High since he failed to make an impact in the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups during the spring.
Payne plans to keep Ace High to weight-for-page races during his autumn campaign building up to the $1.5 million Tancred Stakes (2400m) at Rosehill on March
He is not contemplating a start for the 4YO in the $2 million Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick on April 13 following his disappointing Melbourne Cup performance (20th) in November.
“Ace High has come back very good,” Payne said. “Melbourne was a complete forgive - we are putting a pencil through that campaign.”
“There is no need to start him before the Chipping Norton Stakes. He only starts to get going at 1 1⁄4 m so it’s a waste of time running over shorter than a mile.”
The sad aspect of Ace High's coming campaign will be the absence of his regular rider Tye Angland following the career ending injuries he suffered in a race fall in Hong Kong.
Angland has ridden Ace High in 14 of his 23 starts, recording four wins including his biggest victories in the G1 Victoria Derby, G1 Spring Champion Stakes and G2 Hill Stakes.
Tuesday’s trials provide a real insight into the early progress of some of the top autumn carnival contenders, a surprising scenario but an indication of how trainers now prefer to give their carnival horses longer preparations for their major targets.
There are two trials over 4 1⁄2 f for Group horses on Tuesday with the second heat featuring Trapeze Artist, D'Argento, Lean Mean Machine and Shillelagh.

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