Tough Halatorion a surprise packet for Roy Rogers

Albany horseman Roy Rogers cannot hide his admiration for Halatorion, currently second favourite for Saturday’s Tabtouch Listed Bunbury Stakes (1400m) at Ascot.

The Oratorio five-year-old has been a genuine surprise packet for Roy Rogers, who had modest expectations when the gelding launched his campaign at Belmont.

Halatorion has gone around on 16 occasions since last July, but shows no signs of slowing down with arguably his best form coming deep into his preparation.

He scored consecutive wins at Ascot before a top third to gun filly My Bella Mae at his first crack at black-type level in the Listed Cyril Flower Stakes (1200m).

Two weeks ago, in the Pinjarra Classic (1300m), after a slow start he was storming home late from near last to finish 1 ½ lengths fifth to Hot Zed.

Rogers said Halatorion was tough, fit and strong.

“He’s thriving and I think him being up that long is because he is so strong,” Rogers told The Races WA.

“And there has been no soundness issues with him.

“There is always something than can pop up, so many things that can go wrong with them and nothing has.

“He’s such a tough bloody horse who cops the work.

“If I didn’t work him hard enough he wouldn’t be running in these races.”

Holly Watson picks up the key ride on Halatorion with William Pike combining with Sheeza Belter in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill on the same day.

From barrier eight in the Bunbury Stakes, Rogers wants Watson to have Halatorion closer and just off the pace after getting a long way back in the Pinjarra Classic.

“I’m happy with the gate and if the speed is on I want him just off the speed, I don’t want him leading,” Rogers said.

“I also think he’ll step a lot better from a wider gate, there seems to be more room and you don’t tend to get crowded.

“If he can get cover he switches off and is a better horse in the running line.

“I’m happy he’s got a wide gate.”

Halatorion’s recorded five wins from 31 starts, but a win beyond 1230m has been elusive.

Rogers doesn’t believe 1400m is a distance query.

“Not on his run the other day in the Pinjarra Classic,” Rogers said.

“You wouldn’t think so on how he finished off.

“If he was one or two pairs closer and got the right splits he might have won.”

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