Trainer Shane Nichols will use an off-season race at Sandown on Saturday to gauge the spring carnival credentials of juvenile I Am The General.
The city winner resumes at Sandown having been spelled after he finished worse than midfield in the $2 million Magic Millions Classic at the Gold Coast in January.
Nichols said the interstate trip ruled out the chances of I Am The General campaigning during the Melbourne carnival earlier this year.
The colt will instead be giving a light, late autumn preparation with a view to targeting bigger spoils in the spring.
“Realistically if we can win a Saturday race with him I’d be more than happy to turn him out and just give him a crack at some good three-year-old sprints,” Nichols said.
“There’s a lot of money for the three-year-olds in the spring in Melbourne.”
I Am The General was a Flemington winner at his second start in December, beating subsequent Group Three placegetter Chivalry to confirm plans to run in the Magic Millions in which he finished 11th.
“One of the issues when you go to the Gold Coast is it’s a fairly arduous trip on them,” Nichols said.
“I didn’t feel he could be up and at his best in the autumn for the lead-ups to the Blue Diamond so we gave him his time because the trip did knock him around a bit.”
Topweight with 59kg for Saturday’s Catanach’s Jewellers Handicap (1000m), I Am The General’s opposition includes the Patrick Payne-trained Husson Eagle who has solid form around Golden Slipper placegetter Bring Me The Maid.
Husson Eagle opened at $6 with TAB fixed odds but has firmed to $3.50 favourite while I Am The General is on the fourth line of betting at $7.50 after opening at $9.
Nichols said I Am The General had trialled nicely in preparation for his return.
“I think he’s going fairly well,” Nichols said.
“He’ll improve on whatever he does on Saturday and I think he’s a little vulnerable with 59 (kilograms).
“If he did happen to win, he’s probably going to slot fairly well into some of those better (sprint) races for spring three-year-olds.”