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Dual Group One winner Ace High returns to his home track for the first time in a year and according to trainer David Payne, his timing could not be better.
The four-year-old has done his early groundwork in Melbourne and heads home for Saturday’s Group One Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill, a circuit he has not tackled since the corresponding meeting last year when he finished sixth to D’Argento in the Rosehill Guineas.
His three runs in Victoria have been encouraging and include a Group Two placing behind Saturday’s rival Avilius and a last-start sixth to Harlem in the Australian Cup.
Payne says Ace High usually needs racing and distance to bring him to his top, referring to his victory in the Hill Stakes at Randwick last spring as a case in point.
“About his fourth run, that’s when he peaks,” Payne said.
“He ran in that race last year (Hill Stakes) when he beat Egg Tart and that was about his fourth run.
“He’s super fit. He’s got a bad draw to overcome in 15 which is a bit tough but he’s got gate speed so you just have to leave it to the jockey and hope you can get in.”
The biggest question mark hanging over Ace High is perhaps his record in the wet.
He hasn’t managed a place in seven starts on tracks rated slow or worse and Rosehill will be rain-affected on Saturday.
But Payne isn’t sold on the statistics and remains convinced Ace High isn’t a complete duffer on wet ground.
“He ran on a heavy track in the Champagne Stakes and he ran fourth. The 1600 metres was a bit short for him that day so you can’t really tell,” Payne said.
“But he’s as tough as nails. He’s just an iron horse.”
Godolphin’s Avilius is $3.30 favourite to bounce back from his defeat in the Australian Cup, ahead of New Zealand raider Danzdanzdance who has recorded two Group One wins on rain-affected tracks in her homeland.
He’s Eminent, trained by New Zealand’s dual equestrian Olympic gold medallist Sir Mark Todd, adds further international flavour and will be making his local debut after serving a quarantine period at Canterbury.
A son of champion Frankel and a Group Two winner in France and Group One placed in Ireland, He’s Eminent has not raced since his fifth in the Glorious Stakes at Goodwood in August.
He is being kept safe in betting at $8, alongside Unforgotten who is the most highly regarded of trainer Chris Waller’s five Ranvet runners.
Ace High was a $19 chance on Thursday