Jason Attard and Lucy Keegan Attard are no strangers to taking on the big guns but the Hawkesbury trainers will be venturing into uncharted territory when debutant Sir Rastus lines up in the Skyline Stakes at Randwick.
Adopting the same strategy applied to last year’s victor Mamaragan, the formidable husband and wife team are hoping the unexposed Sir Rastus can make a dream debut and upstage his more fancied rivals in Saturday’s Group Two feature.
Jason Attard said Sir Rastus was the first youngster the stable had prepared who possessed the speed and potential to compete against the top echelon of Sydney’s two-year-olds.
“It’s obviously a tough race to debut in but he’s a real professional and he handled his trials exceptionally well, so we are going to throw him in the deep end and have a crack,” Attard said.
A flashy son of two-year-old triple crown winner Pierro, Sir Rastus has drawn barrier seven in the field of nine, which includes Head Of State, Captivant and the brilliant Magic Millions winner Shaquero.
The winner of the Skyline Stakes will gain an automatic entry into the $3.5 million Golden Slipper at Rosehill on March 20.
When the John Thompson-trained Mamaragan won last year’s Skyline, he became the only horse in the race’s 42-year history to achieve the feat at their first race appearance.
Connections of Sir Rastus are keen to test that formula again.
Attard said the colt had progressed well since his last trial at Randwick on February 16.
“His work has been nothing short of outstanding this week,” Attard said.
“Rory (Hutchings) has done a tremendous amount of work with the horse. He’s played a big role in getting him ready.
“We put the winkers on in trackwork this week and it really made him focus up the straight and they should help him muster a bit more at the jump too on Saturday.”
Sam Clipperton, who provided the Attard stable with their first Saturday city winner, will be in the driver’s seat.
“It’s pretty exciting to have a runner in a race like this,” Attard said.
“He’s done everything right and you only get one shot at these races.
“There’s no reason not to have a go.”
History will always be there to remind us that Attard is not one to shy away from a challenge.
Stable flag bearer Sons Of John nearly pulled off the unthinkable when he ran the mighty mare Winx to a head margin in the 2015 Theo Marks Stakes.