Regan Bayliss considered Pilote D’Essai a genuine Caulfield Cup chance last year before the imported stayer was struck down by a tendon injury.
Pilote D’Essai has been working his way back to full fitness in three runs back from more than a year on the sidelines and Bayliss is looking forward to re-uniting with the stayer at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Bayliss rode Pilote D’Essai to victories in the 2016 Ballarat and Pakenham Cups in consecutive starts and was aboard again in the gelding’s two autumn starts in 2017 before the stayer suffered the injury.
The Lindsay Park stable has used a claiming apprentice in each of Pilote D’Essai’s first three starts back but Bayliss has the ride on Saturday in the GJK Facility Services Plate (2040m).
“He was a good horse to me when I first came out of my apprenticeship, so it’s good to be back on board,” Bayliss said.
“Hopefully we can get back into the winner’s circle.”
It will be the first time Bayliss has ridden the gelding in a race since his close third to stablemate and subsequent Caulfield Cup winner Boom Time in last year’s Mornington Cup Prelude.
“Even now I thought he could get to those really good staying handicaps but obviously he’s had a long lay-off and it’s just taken him a couple of runs to get his fitness up,” Bayliss said.
“It’s hard for these horses to come back from such a long time off and get back to where they were, but his first-up run this preparation was excellent.
“It’s just taken him a few runs to get fit and get the miles into his legs.
“He’s definitely got to show something on Saturday.”
Bayliss is happy to forgive Pilote D’Essai for his last-start eighth at Moonee Valley when he stepped up from 1400m to 2040m in what turned out to be a strongly run event.
“I think having those three runs under his belt, including a run at the 2000, it looks a very nice race for him at Moonee Valley,” Bayliss said.
Pilote D’Essai forms part of a book of six rides for Bayliss at Moonee Valley before the Group One-winning jockey has a short holiday.