The now Darren Weir-trained import Dandino has taken the next step to a spring return where the multiple Group 1 placegetter will track towards a 2015 Caulfield Cup run.
Formerly prepared overseas by Marco Botti, the Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock-owned Dansili stallion hasn’t raced since September last year when fourth in a Group 3 at Kempton Park over 2400m behind Prince Bishop.
A few months later the veteran galloper, who turns nine on Saturday, was transferred to the care of Wangoom-based trainer Weir to prepare for a Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival campaign this year.
He was scratched from last year’s $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) after pulling up lame in his off-foreleg only two days before the mile and a half classic that he finished runner-up behind Fawkner in two years ago.
Dandino also lined-up in the 2013 edition of the ‘race that stops a nation’ when a brave fifth beaten under three and a half lengths by the Gai Waterhouse-trained Fiorente in the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) with Ryan Moore in the saddle.
His latest win was in August of 2013 in the USA St Leger, a drought Weir and connections are hoping to break when he returns to racing this season.
On Wednesday Dandino had a strong jumpout at Ballarat over 800m alongside two fellow Weir-trained horses proving to managing owner Darren Dance his rehabilitation had gone well and the decision not to rush him for an autumn prep was the right one.
“We’ve been really happy with the horse to date,” Dance told AAP.
“It’s been a long rehab program and so far so good, everything has gone to plan.
“We’ve had the long-range plan to get him back for the spring.”
While the horse is still to qualify for the Caulfield Cup on October 17 that is the obvious major target for him this time in.
Dance confirmed the Caulfield Cup target and also announced plans to give the stayer two more trials or hitouts before his first-up run in one of the traditional Cup lead-ups.
Caulfield Cup nominations close next Tuesday, but the current all-in odds at Ladbrokes.com.au have Japan’s Fame Game as the $10 favourite over Kiwi-trained Australian Derby winning young gun Mongolian Khan ($13).
Dandino can also be found a little further down the Caulfield Cup betting markets at $41 to improve on his second in 2013.
Should he make the Caulfield Cup field and perform competitively, there’s a possibility Dandino will also contest his second Melbourne Cup on Tuesday November 3 at Flemington Racecourse.
Fame Game ($13) also leads the futures Melbourne Cup markets while Dandino is at the same $41 price he is for the first leg of the coveted Spring Cups double.
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