Sydney sprinter Aeronautical returns to Melbourne for the Standish Handicap aiming to snap a year-long absence from the winner’s circle.
And trainer Lionel Cohen is confident last year’s Newmarket Handicap placegetter can do it.
Aeronautical has not won since taking out the Listed Razor Sharp at Randwick last December but Cohen is convinced the sprinter is in great shape for Thursday’s Group Three straight-track sprint at Flemington.
The son of Encosta De Lago was due to race at Moonee Valley in mid-December but he banged his head in the float on the way to Melbourne and Cohen decided to turn the truck around.
He expects Aeronautical can make his presence felt on Thursday with Damien Oliver booked for the ride.
“This is a race we have earmarked for a little while and I’m quietly confident if he produces his top form you’d have to think he’s a strong winning chance,” Cohen said.
“I’m coming down with confidence that the horse is in great shape and providing he travels well, I expect him to run well.”
Aeronautical was due to leave Sydney on Monday night.
The Standish Handicap has 19 nominations with Melbourne Cup day stakes winner Reparations topweight with 59kg while Aeronautical has 58.5kg.
Robbie Laing has Lord Of The Sky set to back up after his second in the Listed Christmas Stakes (1200m) at Sandown on Boxing Day.
Three-year-old stablemate Boomwaa, a winner at Moonee Valley on Saturday, is also nominated for the Standish and a 1400m benchmark race.
In his two starts this season Aeronautical has finished sixth of seven behind rising sprint star Deep Field in the City Tattersall’s Lightning (1100m) at Randwick in October and then sixth in the Listed Starlight Stakes (1100m) at the end of November won by Our Boy Malachi.
“In his first run back he was quite far back and they didn’t go quickly,” Cohen said.
“It was his first run for quite a while and he probably needed it a bit more than we thought.
“In his next run Hugh Bowman rode him and said unfortunately he got sandwiched just after the start and from there his race was over but he felt he would have run a good race on the day.”
Aeronautical has raced four times at Flemington highlighted by his close third behind Shamexpress and Moment Of Change in the 2013 Group One Newmarket.
He was unplaced in last year’s Group Two Gilgai and this year’s Group One Lightning Stakes in his most recent trips to Flemington.