Stakes winner Hazzabeel needs to bounce back from a last-start failure if he’s to make an impression stepping up in distance at Caulfield.
The Ciaron Maher-trained Hazzabeel finished last in a Listed 1400m race at Flemington on March 18 in his second start back from a spell and steps up to 1800m on Saturday in the Frank O’Brien Handicap.
Maher’s assistant David Eustace said they were still not sure why Hazzabeel failed at Flemington.
“His work was good and he seemed to get a nice run. He was a little bit keen but essentially he didn’t seem to let down,” Eustace said.
“He pulled up sound and his work has been good since so we’re just hoping that the step up in trip and another run under his belt will find a bit of improvement.
“We’ve just had to put a line through it ourselves and hope that he bounces back because we just couldn’t find any issue with him at all.”
The six-year-old gelding began his career in Western Australia where he won six races including one at Group Three level.
He joined Maher’s team last spring and won the Listed Kilmore Cup (1600m) second-up before finishing second in the Group Three Festival Stakes in Sydney and unplaced in The Villiers on an unsuitable soft track.
Caulfield was rated in the good range on Friday.
“It’s going to be fast ground at Caulfield, he’s got a nice gate to sit midfield and hopefully he runs well,” Eustace said.
The Chris Waller-trained French Emotion is the $2.70 favourite with Hazzabeel at $11.