Sydney trainer Steve Englebrecht is looking forward to the Expressway Stakes return of his Stradbroke Handicap 2015 bound sprinter – miler Malavio at Rosehill Gardens this Saturday.
The Snitzel gelding suffered from cardiac arrhythmia in May last year after walking home 37 lengths after the winner Leebaz crossed the line in the Group 3 Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m).
Before that the six-year-old was travelling sweetly including his a credible eighth to Sacred Falls in a muddy edition of the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Royal Randwick.
The Warwick Farm-based Englebrecht is now hoping the galloper can return to form starting this Saturday when he runs first-up in the $200,000 Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m).
Given plenty of time to recover from the unpredictable occurrence of an irregular heartbeat, Malavio has been carefully tended to and put through enough tests to convince Englebrecht he’s done all he can to ensure the safety of one of his stable stars.
“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 told AAP this week.
“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.”
The horse has had two summer trials leading up to the Expressway for two very nice runs at his home track.
The first was on December 22 when a neck away second over 804m then on January 8 he won over 800m proving he was ready to return to race conditions.
Saturday jockey Christian Reith jumps aboard with the duo drawn midfield in barrier six in the 11-starter Expressway Stakes field.
Latest Expressway Stakes betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au are led by three-year-old Group 3 winner in the mud Panzer Division ($3.40).
Malavio meanwhile can be found at a juicer $17 with a rain-affected track likely.
His first-up record is fair with two wins from six previous resuming runs but he is yet to run top three on Heavy going.
On Soft ground though he’s proven with two wins and two seconds from seven starts so any upgrade to the track would be an advantage for the outsider.
“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.
While happy with the condition of his runner, Englebrecht isn’t expecting too much form Malavio after so long away from racing and is just testing his fitness ahead of bigger aims later in the year.
Most of the other Expressway Stakes runners, including the five representing Chris Waller, are kicking off their Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival campaigns with Group 1 ambitions for The Championships.
Malavio meanwhile will be given a light autumn with the focus being on the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival in Queensland mid-year.
There he will target the Sunshine State’s richest race, the $2 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1350m) run at Doomben over the amended distance this year.
“The idea is to get him going and aim at the Stradbroke Handicap,” his trainer confirmed.
“It looks like a nice race for him and he can have a short preparation and a freshen-up before Queensland.”
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