Django Freeman (Image: Jarrad Dooley)
Trainer Robert Hickmott will be represented by a German import returning from injury at Flemington for the second-consecutive Saturday on Saturday.
Django Freeman will make his long-awaited Australian debut in an open handicap over 1600 metres, just seven days after stablemate Schabau raced for the first time in 14 months.
Runner-up in the Group 1 Deutsches Derby (2400m) in Hamburg at his most recent start last July, Django Freeman arrived in Melbourne last August and was being set for a first-up tilt at the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on the first weekend in October. But the Campanologist entire instead suffered a trackwork injury on the eve of the TAB Turnbull Stakes Day, sustaining a hyperextension issue.
"He put his foot in a hole and his knee went backwards," Hickmott told RSN927.
The subsequent recovery from bone chip surgery means Django Freeman will still have his first Australian start at Flemington, albeit in the second heat of the Winter Championship series, allocated 58.5kg behind equal 63kg topweights So Si Bon and Pacodali.
"The big, flat Flemington track will suit him down to the ground," Hickmott said.
"It doesn't look an overly strong race and he comes in well at the handicap, so we look forward to seeing him race. The (handicap) ratings system has got them into these races with winnable weights, which helps us a lot."
Django Freeman prepared for Saturday's $100,000 race by galloping on the course proper at Sandown on Tuesday morning. The four-year-old was ridden by regular rider Jacob Rule over 1200m, improving gradually through his work sitting off a lead horse and coming home his final 400m in 21.38 seconds.
"Although he probably had enough on the line … it was very pleasing work to the eye that will clean him out ahead of Saturday," Hickmott said.
"His rehabilitation process has been very straightforward. We feel that we've got him back 100 per cent at the moment and his work suggested that this morning."
Meanwhile, Hickmott reported Schabau is likely to derive immeasurable fitness improvement from finishing seventh behind Super Titus over 2000m last Saturday.
Schabau was one of the leading fancies for the 2019 Lexus Melbourne Cup after three-consecutive victories at Flemington.
The four-year-old entire won narrowly twice over 2000m in Benchmark handicaps during the first two months of 2019 before cruising to a 3.75-length victory in the Listed Roy Higgins Quality (2600m) at Flemington.
But those Cup aspirations were delayed for at least 12 months when a small lesion was found in Schabau’s right-fore tendon following the Roy Higgins win in March 2019.
"I couldn't be happier with how he ran first-up, he was 80 per cent fit and had a cosy run but knocked up the last 200 metres," Hickmott said.
"The sectionals were nice and solid through that race and he's going to come out of it (the race) in leaps and bounds.
"He exceeded my expectations with how the race panned out and the sectionals they ran.
"It's the first time he had a blow since he arrived into Australia, you wouldn't know how many lengths of improvement there is from a 14-month layoff and missing a couple of strong gallops.
"Most importantly he's pulled up remarkable, which is a good sign going forward."
Both Django Freeman and Schabau will be restricted to a couple of starts this campaign before being given a short break ahead of the 2020 Melbourne Spring Carnival.