Sirius Suspect (Image: Racing Photos)
Saab Hasan admits on Saturday he will be like a kid on Christmas morning when he saddles up Sirius Suspect in the $1.25 million Group 1 Seppelt Wines Newmarket Handicap (1200m).
Hasan has long believed his sprinter can match it with the best and since his victory in the Standish Handicap has been dreaming of him taking his place in Flemington's time-honoured feature sprint.
"This is the Melbourne Cup for sprinters," the Flemington-based trainer said.
"How many stables with 12 inexpensive horses can get a shot at a Group 1?
"I had a discussion with the owners after the Standish and said I wanted to save him for a race in March, they were all so excited when I told them it was the Newmarket and here we are.
"He went to Darren and Liz Dance's property at Maningtree Park the day after the Standish weighing 499 kilograms and came back 13 kilograms heavier two weeks later."
Not only do Hasan and his connections, Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock, have faith in their sprinter but the state's premier rider in Jamie Kah does too.
Kah rode Sirius Suspect in an 800-metre Flemington jumpout on Friday morning when he cruised to victory in a time of 47.75 seconds over the likes of Elite Street, Celebrity Queen, Flit, September Run and Swats That.
"Jamie's feedback was she thought she was trialing Nature Strip," Hassan relayed.
"She had a few options on rides she could take but after trialing him she said there was only one.
"I think he has improved two lengths since the Standish and maybe another length since the trial - he probably needs to improve three lengths to win a Newmarket."
Hasan has long dreamed of winning a G1 at Flemington. It is the very suburb he arrived in at the commission flats after fleeing war-torn Cyprus in 1976. Hasan is dreaming it could be destiny.
"We haven't chased our tail - he was ready to go Monday or Tuesday if we needed him to be," Hasan stated.
"I have him spot on at the right time, for the right race at the right track.
"September Run is potentially a champion … I am not saying he is a genuine Group 1 sprinter but if a few of the opposition don't show up my horse will be trying 110 per cent."
Sirius Suspect arrived at Hasan's Flemington base in early 2019 having formerly been trained by Darren Weir, for whom the son of Wanted had won four of his 11 starts.
"Darren Dance said to me when Shoreham retired he would send me one as good as him - he sent me this horse and said see what you can do," Hasan explained.
"I said he isn't as good as Shoreham, he is rated 77 now, and now he is a 98-rater."
In Hasan's care the six-year-old has won four races - three times on his home track at Flemington - coming up with barrier 14 for Saturday's race.
"Someone asked me this week what barrier I wanted and I said 14, so maybe it's an omen," Hasan said.
"I think my horse will make an unbelievable 1400-metre horse, I've always said that - I know it, that's a fact - if he relaxes over 1400 metres, one day he will blow them to pieces.
"And I think you need to be a tough 1400-metre horse to win a Newmarket."
For Hasan, however, it is not all about winning on Saturday. Being there on the big stage at Headquarters is a victory in itself.
"Win, lose or draw I feel like I have already won," Hassan said.
"But look out if we do win!"