The Golden Eagle 2023 still first Choice on Knight’s radar

If Winx Guineas winner Knight’s Choice can race his way into the Golden Eagle with a victory at Randwick, there will be a sense of synchronicity for his trainer Sheila Laxon.

While it is ‘Spring Wild Card Day’ in Sydney, Saturday is Caulfield Cup Day in Melbourne and it was on the corresponding afternoon 22 years ago that Laxon captured the historic race with Ethereal, who also triumphed in that year’s Melbourne Cup.

The grand staying mare now has a race carrying her name on the Caulfield Cup undercard and will always be remembered by Laxon with overwhelming fondness.

“That was like a fairytale, the whole thing,” Laxon said.

“I look back now and think, ‘how the hell did that ever happen?’. It just all fell into place. It was an awesome time of my life.”

Now training at the Sunshine Coast in partnership with John Symons, Laxon is hoping she has found her next high-class horse.

A spectacular winner of the Winx Guineas during the Brisbane winter carnival, Knight’s Choice was the subject of multi-million dollar offers from Hong Kong, but they were rejected by his owners, who simply wanted to enjoy the fun of having a nice horse.

The four-year-old gets his best chance since then to prove that was the right call when he lines up in the Filante Handicap (1600m) at Randwick on Saturday, all but needing a victory to cement a start in the $10 million Golden Eagle (1500m).

“I’d like to think he could win, that’s probably being a bit optimistic,” Laxon said.

“But we’ve got him in the Golden Eagle, that’s the big cherry at the end of the line.

“If he doesn’t, there are other options for him, but it would be really super to see him be able to run in a race like the Golden Eagle.”

Knight’s Choice has raced just once since the Winx Guineas, finishing unplaced behind Airman over an unsuitable 1200m at Randwick last month when he was slow to jump.

Laxon took heart from the fact his finishing sectionals were strong, and from what she has seen from him on the training track since.

“He was in the barriers for a little while and he dawdled out, he didn’t jump and run, but his final sectionals were just a shade under the winner’s so had he jumped on par, he would have been right in it I think,” Laxon said.

“He has just kept improving and improving.

“He galloped with one of Bjorn Baker’s the other day, they had an E-Trakka on (heart rate, stride and speed monitor) and they ran almost race times.

“Lucky they had the E-Trakker on because when he came back in he wasn’t even blowing and I thought, ‘I don’t know if they’ve done enough,’ and then of course the sectional times they had run were good.”

The one ingredient missing this weekend is the suspended Jayden Lloyd, who has partnered Knight’s Choice at his past three starts.

However, Laxon hasn’t strayed far in search of a replacement, booking the hoop’s Sydney-based brother Zac to warm the saddle.

Knight’s Choice has been an early market firmer, backed in from an opening quote of $15 to $9.50 with online betting sites while the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained Unspoken is a $2.80 favourite.

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