The imported Pilote D’Essai is on the comeback trail at Flemington as he tries to regain form after an injury break.
The Lindsay Park stable thought it had a promising horse on its hands when Pilote D’Essai made a successful Australian debut at Bendigo in March 2016.
Later that year, Piltore D’Essai came up short as the stable tried to get him into the better spring races, but after three second placings his trainers, David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig lowered the bar.
Pilote D’Essai then won the 2016 Ballarat Cup and two weeks later claimed the Pakenham Cup.
Things looked bright for the autumn but after running third in the Mornington Cup Prelude at Caulfield, his second start for the preparation, Pilote D’Essai’s campaign was over through a tendon injury.
After recuperation and a slow build-up, Pilote D’Essai is ready to return in the Australian Trainers’ Association Handicap (1400m) at Flemington on Saturday.
The stable is not expecting too much from the gelding who has had a barrier trial at Tatura in March and a jump-out at Flemington last month.
“He’s had a long time off and he’ll probably need a couple of runs to get back into top condition,” co-trainer Ben Hayes said.
“We’re really happy and he’s going well but I think we’ll see the best of him after a couple of runs.”
Pilote D’Essai, to be ridden by 2kg claiming apprentice Fred Kersley, will be joined by stablemates Sovereign Nation (Ethan Brown) and So Si Bon (Andrew Mallyon) in the 1400m-race.
Hayes said Sovereign Nation, a winner over the track and distance two starts back, loved the Flemington layout and the stable was expecting a forward showing.
He said they had resorted to dropping So Si Bon in distance in a bid to see him finish off after his fifth in the VOBIS Gold Mile at Caulfield on April 21.
“He pulled a bit and didn’t finish off,” Hayes said.
“We’re going to ride him cold and hopefully there’s some speed on. His best runs have been when there’s speed on.
“He’s been putting himself there with the blinkers on.
“They’re to stop him biting and it seems to be working.”