Schabau (Image: Racing Photos)
Trainer Rob Hickmott would love German import Schabau to return a winner in Saturday's Lexus Trophy (2000m) but there is another race sponsored by the luxury car company in November at Flemington that is the ultimate prize.
Hickmott has built a strong reputation for preparing stayers, in his own right and as head trainer for Lloyd Williams at Macedon Lodge, where he put the polish on Melbourne Cup winners Green Moon and Almandin.
The focus for Lexus Melbourne Cup places will be centered on the Listed Andrew Ramsden (2800m) on Saturday, with the winner granted automatic entry into November's famous two-mile race, however, Schabau's appearance on the undercard will garner plenty of attention.
Unbeaten in three runs in Australia, culminating in the Listed Roy Higgins Quality (2600m), his progress to the 2019 Lexus Melbourne Cup was halted by a tendon injury, but after an extended layoff, the five-year-old is right to resume.
"He had an eight per cent lesion in his tendon after the Roy Higgins win and I know it's only a minor tendon but there's no such thing as a good tendon injury," Hickmott told RSN927.
"Obviously being out at Lloyd's (Williams) we used to rehab them the old-fashioned way.
"He had about 11 months off then we started him with a bit of recuperative work just on the off-track programs with water walkers and treadmills toning his muscles back up, eventually building up to his gallop work, which has been issue free to date.
"The tendon's scanned 100 per cent so it's a full recovery and looking forward to Saturday."
Hickmott was quick to caution punters looking to step into the $6, suggesting there are a number of factors to consider.
"It's probably more a gentle return to the track, punters be a little bit wary I'd dare say," Hickmott said.
"Look there's plenty of improvement in the horse, he's probably only 80 to 85 per cent fit on Saturday, he has got a huge lung capacity the horse, so the 2000m first-up the tempo should suit him.
"He could be a bit vulnerable on Saturday, Rupture, I don't know about a soft lead but should lead and run along at a nice even tempo.
"Although I couldn't tip him strongly those horses who know how to win find a way but if his condition does give out, we won't be knocking him around late, that's for sure."
Hickmott has given Schabau two jumpouts at Caulfield and although his charge has come in at the rear of the field, the preparation is about having a relaxed horse on Saturday ahead of the major prize of qualifying for the Lexus Melbourne Cup in the new season.
"First time back for 12 months he might be up and about a bit but he's shown in his previous races at Flemington he's had no issues in settling, that should have him in very good stead to finish off late," Hickmott said.
"He'll have a couple of runs just to blow the cobwebs out in this preparation, a short break where he shouldn't lose too much residual fitness and as you know we'll need him peaking for The Bart Cummings.
"It's a race that a lot of people earmark now as we see on Saturday with the great field assembled for the Ramsden."