A return to form by Pilote D’Essai has Lindsay Park confident the gelding can land a second victory in the Pakenham Cup.
Pilote D’Essai won the 2016 Ballarat Cup before going on to take the Pakenham Cup at his next start and Lindsay Park again has the race in its sights on Saturday..
The stable had high hopes for 2017 with Pilote D’Essai but after two autumn runs he was put on the injury list with a tendon strain.
After 14 months Pilote D’Essai made his racetrack return but had moderate form through the winter and spring until a last-start second in the Ballarat Cup on November 24.
After setting a solid tempo, Pilote D’Essai was run down by the Darren Weir-trained Kiwia, beaten 1-1/4 lengths.
Senior Lindsay Park trainer David Hayes was happy with the improved performance in the Ballarat Cup.
“He’s back in his zone and when he’s in his zone he’s pretty good,” Hayes said.
“I thought he was about to go well, and he did, but his fitness ran out in that tough testing ground late.
“If it was dry I’m sure he would have won.
“He goes well in the ground but he just wasn’t fit enough.”
Hayes said it was easier to get sprinters fit to return to racing following a tendon injury.
He described Pilote D’Essai as a big lump of a horse who had a year’s worth of rehab while it took nearly that long again to get him fully fit.
A different technique is required for horses coming back from tendon injuries and Hayes said at some stage you needed to get serious with them.
“You work them and then give them longer to recover, but then they get big on you again,” Hayes said.
“In the end you have to say ‘right, we’ve got to get you fit’ because there’s no point having a good tendon and an unfit horse.”