Having reeled off blistering 26-second quarters to leave Group 1 winners in his wake, Honolua Bay oozes potential and connections are hopeful his return in a Saturday night feature may spark his emergence as a top tier talent.
The Lauriston Bloodstock bred and owned four-year-old debuts for Emma Stewart in the Catanach’s Jewellers 4YO & 5YO Championship, hoping to use a gate two draw to stave off the likes of Willie Go West and proven back row performers Boots Electric, Out To Play, Pacifico Dream, Mach Dan and Max Delight.
“He is still immature having had only 16 starts, this race is a bonus and hopefully it will be a stepping stone into that (top) company,” said Anne Anderson, who co-owns and bred Honolua Bay with husband Bill.
“We would like to see him take the next step, we think he can. We will wait and see what Emma and Clayton (Tonkin) decide (where he goes), they are very good at placing horses.”
The Somebeachsomewhere gelding is out of National Gallery, who also gave them Rocknroll Icon ($176,153) and Mach Up ($113,878), but Honolua Bay may prove the pick of the litter.
His 16 starts have produced nine wins and two placings, but he’s yet to have his Group-level break-out moment, having led but tired at the final turn when a $2.60 chance to win his three-year-old Breeders Crown semi-final and been checked and finished seventh in this year's 4YO Bonanza.
Saturday night presents only the second Group-level race of his career and his first start for Stewart, having previously been trained by David Aiken.
Anderson said Stewart had the horse as a two-year-old but injury curtailed his entry to racing and so they shifted him to their Longwood property to mend.
He’d debut as a late three-year-old for Aiken, who trained nearby in Avenel, with the Andersons hopeful they’d be able to see him in the flesh when he stepped out nearby.
“He trialled well and looked to be a pretty good horse, so we tried to watch him as often as we could – we love going to the races.”
However, they’ve since sold that property and relocated to the city, prompting the transfer to Stewart and continuing a long association with the trainer and her partner Clayton Tonkin.
“It goes back to when Peter Tonkin bought a yearling off me, Maffioso, at yearling sales,” Anderson said.
He would go on to win $606,907, including the 2009 Chariots Of Fire, and start a lucrative friendship between the Andersons and Tonkin-Stewart racing.
“As we got further along and started to keep horses to race we gave them to different trainers, but particularly Emma.”
Our Little General, Poster Boy and Ladies In Red are but a few of the names that have flourished in their partnership, and Anderson is optimistic Honolua Bay could one day be spoken in a similar breath.
“I think he’s a very nice horse,” she said. “He’s only had 16 starts and hopefully he can step up again.
“He has been in work for three-and-a-half months, but first-up will be a bit trying in this company.”
There’s plenty of racing to look forward too, with November’s Breeders Crown and December’s Vicbred Super Series likely to feature a number of Lauriston Bloodstock prospects, including THAT filly Ladies In Red.
“It’s been pretty quite for a while, but with all the good racing now we are looking forward to getting back to the track and them racing well,” she said.
“I love to see the filly and mares, and to see a three-year-old filly become a headliner is wonderful.”