Co-trainer Tom Dabernig believes the straight track at Flemington Racecourse could be the key to uncovering better Melbourne form from Dibayani who returns to racing in Saturday’s 2016 Aurie’s Star Handicap.
The Shamardal seven-year-old races for the first time since his distant ninth behind 2016 Cox Plate-bound Lucia Valentina in Randwick’s Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) back in early April.
He is nominated to race first-up in Victoria on the weekend in the $150,000 Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) where the European and former Hong Kong-raced import has his first look at the Flemington track.
Group 1 placed in Sydney during the autumn when runner-up to Chris Waller’s Cox Plate winning mare Winx in the Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) over the mile, Dibayani is yet to break his maiden status down under.
He had his first run in Australia when third behind Mourinho at Caulfield in August last year when resuming in the Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m).
This season he kicks things off a week earlier and Hayes is hoping he is suited to Flemington’s famous straight six.
“He’s always been a bit tricky the Melbourne way and I think the straight track will be good for him,” Dabernig, who trains in partnership with his cousin Ben Hayes and Hall of Fame uncle David Hayes, told AAP.
After the Lawrence Stakes placing last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, Dibayani went on to run third to The Cleaner in Moonee Valley’s Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) before two unplaced runs in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (800m) and a Group 3 on Caulfield Cup Day.
This season the stable is looking at an earlier elite level run with Dabernig hoping the horse shapes up as a competitive hope for the $500,000 Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 27.
“He was good here early last spring so maybe we could look at something like the Memsie and then possibly head up to Sydney after that,” he said.
Before partnering up with Dabering, Hayes won two past editions of the Memsie Stakes with Palace Reign (1993) and Miss Finland (2007).
Dibayani trialled well down the straight last Friday morning with stablemate Tashbeeh who is also nominated for the Aurie’s Star Handicap, but is more likely to head to Adelaide for the Group 3 Spring Stakes (1200m) at Morphettville on Saturday.
“There’s a Group 3 race in Adelaide that we’re leaning towards with Tashbeeh,” Dabernig said.
“It looks a nice race and we wanted to have a quality runner in the race.”
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