Honesta, one of the favourites to win the ATC Australian Oaks, has been afforded every opportunity to make a first-up impression at Randwick.
Runner-up in the VRC Oaks, Honesta will be one of three fillies on the second line of Australian Oaks markets who will contest the Group Two Surround Stakes on Saturday.
Trainer John Thompson said he delayed the start of Honesta’s autumn campaign to ensure the three-year-old would have a better chance of showing up over more ground.
“I thought about running her in the Light Fingers, but they were going to be too sharp for her as a stayer,” Thompson said.
Thompson compensated for Honesta missing the Light Fingers when he sent her to the provincial barrier trials for a 1250m hit-out.
It’s a move Thompson insists has Honesta tuned to run strongly for the first time in her career first-up off an extended break.
“The 1400 metres on the big track gives her the chance to run well,” Thompson said.
“She’ll be hitting the line and hopefully there will be a little bit of speed in the race.”
Honesta has been marked as an $11 Australian Oaks chance, the same quote as a fellow Surround runners Stay With Me and Ambience.
Ambience is also resuming after finishing in the minor placing behind Jameka and Honesta as favourite in the VRC Oaks.
But trainer John O’Shea hasn’t locked Ambience into a definite Australian Oaks campaign.
“She ran well in the spring but I’m still weighing up whether or not she’s a genuine 2400-metre horse,” he said.
Stay With Me never got warm in her return in the Surround, but she there is stable confidence about the filly being close to her Thousand Guineas-winning form.
Ambience’s stablemate, the unbeaten Ghisoni, resumes as the bookmakers’ pick to win the Surround with Godolphin’s No.1 Australian jockey James McDonald taking the ride.