Top Te Aroha galloper Hiflyer will take an unorthodox path to the Group 1 Sistema Railway (1200m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.
Hiflyer has been set for the major sprint since being put aside for a spell following his sixth to Melody Belle and Savvy Coup in the Group 1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m) at Hastings last September.
“He really thrived during his spell and he’s been back in work about two to three weeks,” trainer Peter Lock said.
“I’m planning an unorthodox approach to the Railway. He’ll have a jumpout or maybe two at Matamata then go into the Railway fresh-up.
“I know it’s a bit stupid taking on a Group 1 like that, but he’s very good fresh-up and I couldn’t be happier with him.
“He’s come back bigger and stronger and the trip he had to Australia earlier in the year has made him. He’s matured and the penny has finally dropped.”
Hiflyer was taken to Sydney last June and ran fourth in his two Rosehill starts, finishing less than two lengths from the winner first-up in the Listed Winter Stakes (1400m) then Hugh Bowman climbed aboard when he contested the Listed Winter Challenge (1500m).
“Bowman was quite impressed with him,” Lock said.
“He told me he gives him a massive feel as a little miler and could possibly get 2000m, whether or not it’s in a stakes race over there.
“I’ve tried him over ground once before and I’d like to give him another shot at it, possibly in the autumn. I know 1600m is his real go and I’ll get him ready for the Thorndon Mile after the Railway, but fresh-up I’m confident he wil be a big chance in the Railway.
“Sure he’ll get a lot of weight, but he’s used to carrying that. Before he went to Sydney he won the sprint at Ruakaka (under 61.5kg) and that day he ran the 1200m in 1:10 and broke 34 seconds for the last 600m. And that was after being held up on the turn.”
Five of Hiflyer’s nine wins have been over 1600m including successive wins in the Group 3 Thompson Handicap at Trentham and the Group 3 Eagle Technology Stakes at Ellerslie, while he was also third in last year’s Group 1 Thorndon Mile at Trentham.
He picked up his other Group 1 placing when charging home for second behind Melody Belle in last September’s Tarzino Trophy (1400m).
“He was beaten a half-length and Melody Belle is a top mare, but I honestly believe he should have pushed her closer if he’d stuck to the inside,” Lock said.
Johnathan Parkes has been Hiflyer’s regular rider over the past few campaigns and he has told Lock he wants to stay with the son of Tavistock in the Railway.
“That’s a confidence-booster for us,” Lock said. “He’s been loyal to him and I’m happy he wants to ride him.”