Local Warwick Farm-based trainer Steve Englebrecht is looking forward to getting his smart Snitzel four-year-old Malavio back on the racecourse after a month break with the galloper eyeing off the Festival Stakes – Villiers Stakes 2012 double.
The first leg of the double runs at Rosehill Gardens this weekend with Malavio one of 26 early entries for the $100,000 Listed Festival Stakes (1500m).
The bulk of the Festival Stakes acceptors, due to be taken on Wednesday, like Malavio will also be looking to back up in the $175,000 Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm on December 22.
A winner of seven of their 18 career starts to date Malavio was last seen running just a length away fourth to Darci Be Good in the Group 3 Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m) on November 8 from barrier 10 of 12 and Englebrecht is confident they have progressed well since.
“I thought it was a great run at Hawkesbury,” Englebrecht said.
“Nathan (Berry) had to make a lot of use of him from the bad barrier.”
After their Hawkesbury run Englebrecht would ideally liked to have given Malavio one more run before the Festival but without a suitable race on the program he opted for a Warwick farm trail over 1200m on November 29 which they won by nearly two lengths.
“There wasn’t an ideal race to run him in before the Festival so I decided to send him to the farm for a week in the paddock and to use the trial as a lead-up,” Englebrecht explained.
“He’s pulled up well from it and I’m sure he is ready. I just hope he can draw a decent barrier.”
Returning to Rosehill will work in Malavio’s favour with the galloper having won their two of their three most recent starts at the track including the Listed Civic Stakes (1400m) back in June.
They bummed out at the track on October 27 when hampered by another wide gate (10 of 13) and were forced to carry 59kg when 10th to Aeronautical.
With 55kg on Saturday however they should be more competitive when they likely face the three horses that beat them home at Hawkesbury last time out – Darci Be Good, Isopach and Praecido also all entered for the Festival Stakes 2012.
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