WITH Winx not in the mix, Saturday's Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick has attracted 14 nominations including Prized Icon who may eventually meet the champion in the $4m Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at The Championships in April.
Trainer Kris Lees isn't sure what Prized Icon's main target will be this autumn but he knows he's got a class horse in form.
The 2016 Victoria Derby winner made a nice return to racing when second to Lanciato in the Carrington Stakes where he was giving a 7kg weight advantage to the winner.
Lees was relieved to see how well he came back and said he was still the same quality Group 1-level horse.
"I was really pleased considering he'd been off for a long time," he said.
"He's a four-year-old stallion and with time off you're not sure how they're going to react but he was showing positive signs on the track so it was good to see him do it on race day.
"I think he's worked well since and has come on the right way and he's a lot better placed under these conditions."
With no Winx in Saturday's feature race, Lees decided to keep Prized Icon at 1400m, but don't expect him to test him over a staying trip this campaign.
"I didn't want to run him last week," he said.
"I wanted him to go three weeks between runs because he really put in and had a pretty hard run first-up.
"I'm still not convinced of his proper distance yet. Often Derby winners can be a bit misleading. I think 2000m is his probably his ideal trip.
"He doesn't look like a stayer and I'm very open (about his program). He's a quality horse and he'll run well. There's a lot of positives there."
Meanwhile, Lanciato, who defeated Prized Icon in the Carrington Stakes, is only a 50/50 chance to head to Randwick on Saturday.
Trainer Mark Newnham is concerned about running him at weight-for-age and may bypass the $250,000 feature.
"It's tempting to go there, but we're meeting Prized Icon 7kg worse and Endless Drama 5.5kg worse and they will be fitter for their runs so I'll have a look at the make-up of the field and see where he fits into it before I make up my mind," Newnham said.
Racegoers will still get the chance to see Winx on Saturday when she has a track gallop between races three and four at 2.35pm.
Winx is $1.40 favourite to win back-to-back Queen Elizabeth Stakes after nominations were released on Monday.
Last year, the champion mare opened $1.60 to win the Queen Elizabeth after nominations before starting at $1.12.
'The price ($1.40) may look short this far out but such is her dominance against her rivals in a number of wins over the last two years, come race day that may be well overs," TAB's Glenn Munsie said.
QUEEN ELIZABETH STAKES
$15 Johannes Vermeer, Kementari, Rekindling
$26 Alizee, Aloisia, Ambitious, Brave Smash, Deauville, Gailo Chop, Happy Clapper, Hartnell, Tosen Stardom
$11 Happy Clapper
$15 Alizee, Brave Smash, Care To Think, Tosen Stardom, Trapeze Artist
$26 Addictive Nature, Aloisia, Ambitious, Black Heart Bart, Brave Song, Bravo Zolo, Classic Uniform, Clearly Innocent
TJ SMITH STAKES
$11 Menari, Vega Magic
$15 Alizee, In Her Time, Kementari, Merchant Navy, She Will Reign
$26 Catchy, Clearly Innocent, English, Hey Doc, Ittetsu, Librisa Breeze, Redkirk Warrior, Russian Revolition, Trapeze Artist
$8 Johannes Vermeer, Rekindling
$11 Bonneval, Lord Fandango
$15 Almandin, Rare Rhythm, The Taj Mahal
$26 Ambitious, Clincher, Dal Harraild, Gallic Chieftain, Harlem, Holdthaisgreen, Interlocuter
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