Guard Of Honour on hit-and-run mission to Mick Dittman Plate

KRIS Lees says Guard Of Honour’s shot at the listed Mick Dittman Plate (1050 metres) at Doomben on Saturday will likely be a hit-and-run mission.

NICE PICK-UP: Larry Cassidy will ride Guard Of Honour on Saturday.

NICE PICK-UP: Larry Cassidy will ride Guard Of Honour on Saturday.

Guard Of Honour has not raced since 11th in the group 1 Oakleigh Plate at Flemington on February 25 and his Newcastle trainer has chosen the three-year-old race, on the better Doomben surface, over equally-rich sprints at Randwick. Larry Cassidy will ride the stakes-winning colt from gate 11 of 14.

“He’s come up with a very awkward gate so he’s going to need some luck in running and it looks a really fast little race, but he’s very capable on his day,” Lees said.

At Randwick, Lees has filly Twist Tops on trial for a possible Scone Guineas run in race two, a three-year-old handicap (1200m).

Twist Tops’ most recent run was 10th in a Provincial Championships qualifier at Rosehill on March 18.

“It’s a nice race for her, she’s going well,” Lees said.

“She ran on that really heavy track the other day, so that was a forgive run, but she trialled well last week.

“If she ran well, we might go to the Scone Guineas.”

Big Duke, which is part-owned by Hunter syndicators Australian Bloodstock, was the $3 favourite on Friday for the $2 million Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick.

Lees said Guard Of Honour would likely come back to Sydney racing after the Doomben run.

​“He’a a high-quality horse but being still a colt, he can be a bit in and out,” he said. “That being said, this can be seen as a drop in grade in some sense.

“There’s other races up there but he’ll probably come home after it.”

Lees reached 100 winners for the season with a winning double at Newcastle on Thursday.

”​We’re having a good season, but we’ve got good numbers and some quality owners and horses, so you expect that,” he said.

“You are entitled to be getting winners.”

On Friday, Newcastle trainer Paul Perry (Leaven On Malice and Walk Right In) Scone trainer Paul Messara (Lord Cecil and Roseito) had winning doubles at Muswellbrook.

Racing NSW reports: Harley Walden, a stalwart of breeding and racing at Scone in the Hunter Valley for 60 years, died this week after a battle with a brain tumor.

Harley had spent all his life at Scone, except for a brief stint as stud groom at the Stratheden Stud at Tamworth. He grew up on Sledmere Stud and, as a schoolboy and for a few years after, helped his father, the late Darcy Walden, in the breeding season, preparing yearlings and taking them the Sydney sales.

Some of these yearlings were shown in the thoroughbred section at the Sydney Royal Easter Show by Darcy and Harley and won many awards.

Mr Walden helped in the production of many good horses at Sledmere, including Sailor’s Guide, a great Australian racehorse of the 1950s who went to America and won the Washington DC International, and 1968 Golden Slipper winner Royal Parma. He also had a long association with Scone Race Club and published several books on its racing activities.

Mr Walden often had a column on racing and breeding in The Scone Advocate: “He was a wealth of knowledge,” editor Rod Thompson said.

“I met him a couple of times when I first arrived to the area. And, I was amazed by what he could recall. The industry certainly needs characters like Harley – and he’ll definitely be missed. My condolences to his family members.”