Harlem after winning the 2019 Australian Cup (Image: Racing Photos)
Harlem is on the cusp of Australian Cup history and, just like the past two years, co-trainer David Hayes is daring to dream.
The imported galloper on Thursday morning took another step towards a historic third-straight win in Victoria's premier autumn weight-for-age contest with a 1500-metre trial win at Geelong.
WATCH: Harlem's Geelong trial
The most pleasing thing from Hayes' perspective was that it came despite a couple of noticeable areas for improvement.
"He didn't have his blinkers on and he was a little bit on the lazy side, but Mark Zahra was very happy with him," Hayes said.
"He was pretty effective and we all know he gets much better into his preparation."
That will commence in the 1600-metre Group 3 Carlyon Cup at Caulfield on Saturday week, February 8.
The gelding resumed with a fourth placing in that race last year, then finished seventh in the Peter Young Stakes before Australian Cup victory at $31.
It was his second-straight blowout win in that race, having scored at $61 in 2018, as he joined Vo Rogue (1989/90) as the only back-to-back winners of the race at weight-for-age.
"I know he's better in the autumn and he looks physically fantastic at the moment," Hayes said.
"It's a pretty big ask to win three (Australian Cups) - I don't know if it's been done before - but he does pop up at Flemington in a 2000-metre race very well."
Harlem is at $51 in the Australian Cup market, which is headed by Avilius, Constantinople, Shared Ambition and Vow And Declare at $11.