While the Expressway Stakes is the stepping stone to The Championships for many of Malavio’s rivals, his trainer Steve Englebrecht is looking further ahead and further afield.
The Group Two Expressway (1200m) at Rosehill on Saturday signals the unofficial start of the Sydney autumn carnival with premier trainer Chris Waller fielding five runners.
Malavio, whose long-term goal is the Stradbroke Handicap during the Brisbane winter, is having his first start since suffering cardiac arrhythmia in the Hawkesbury Cup last May.
The condition is not predictable and often a one-off so Englebrecht has done all he can to make sure he has a happy and healthy horse.
“We have had exhaustive tests done and he has come through with flying colours. There’s no treatment for the condition and no-one can say why it happens,” Englebrecht said.
“We monitor him closely and we are vigilant about his behaviour just to make sure he isn’t stirred up.
“What I can see is that he is a fit and healthy horse. He won his barrier trial well and came through it with no problems.
“So the idea is to get him going and aim at the Stradbroke Handicap. It looks like a nice race for him and he can have a short preparation and a freshen-up before Queensland.”
The trainer is also pleased the rain has stopped in Sydney with an upgrade to the soft range likely for Rosehill.
“I will be very happy to see an upgrade. He has raced OK on heavy but he is better with it a bit firmer,” Englebrecht said.
A wet track is not the preferred surface for Group One winning mare Driefontein who holds an entry to the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington in early March.
“If her form warrants it she could go down there,” Gai Waterhouse’s stable representative Mark Newnham said.
“She’s had a very good run down there behind Deep Field and on her day she’s a very good mare,” Newnham said.
The winner of the Robert Sangster in Adelaide last April, Driefontein ran second to Deep Field in the Group Two tab.com.au (1200m) at Flemington in November.
Three-year-old Panzer Division is the $3.50 favourite to beat his older rivals with the Waller-trained Weary the $5 second-elect.
Malavio was at $17 on Friday.