Orderofthegarter

Orderofthegarter finishing second to Furrion at his Australia debut (Image: Racing Photos)

Comeback galloper keeps them guessing

His old form jumps out of the page when considering a winter handicap at Flemington, but Orderofthegarter's long-awaited return to the racetrack on Saturday comes with little more than cautious optimism.

"I can't predict anything other than on Saturday he'll let us know where he's at," said his new trainer Danny O'Brien on Wednesday.

"He's fit and healthy and well and we're expecting him to go to the races and show us something, but we're open-minded about what it could be.

"He's in the right race to show up but after such a long break it's just hard to tell.

"He's got the pedigree (by world's premier sire Galileo). He's a really good style of horse and he's had a faultless preparation since he's turned up so we're hoping to see him run well."

Orderofthegarter has drawn barrier six in the 13-horse line-up for jockey Damien Oliver in the James Dunbar's Flemington Inn (1600m).

As a young horse when in the hands of Aidan O'Brien in Ireland, Orderofthegarter won his 1600-metre maiden by 11 lengths in 2017 before thrashing The Taj Mahal by nearly four lengths in the 2000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown.

In June of 2017, he split Benbatl (winner) and Mirage Dancer (third) at Royal Ascot before making his way to Australia after being purchased by Lloyd Williams and partners.

But Orderofthegarter has raced just once in this country when trained by Liam Howley, finishing second in a Flemington handicap behind Furrion nearly two years ago.

O'Brien has already tasted success with a stayer from the Williams yard, as he won an Adelaide Cup and ran second in The Andrew Ramsden with spring-bound stayer King Of Leogrance and said he could not have hoped for a better preparation for Orderofthegarter's return.

"He's had a lovely long prep coming off a long break so we're treating Saturday as a bit of a learning experience, but he's been in work since the start of March so he's ready to go to the races," O'Brien said.

"His form is a long time ago - he hasn't raced for two years. He ran at Royal Ascot in 2017 and that's three years ago and he's only had one run since.

"He had a jumpout at Moonee Valley a month ago and went nicely enough but this is where we can properly gauge him."