Robert Hickmott assesses the upcoming meeting at Flemington as the defining day of the spring for his stable stars Schabau and Django Freeman as they both need to win to catapult their way into spring features.
From past experience, Hickmott knows how important it is to win on Turnbull Stakes day as he has had great success at this meeting previously.
Twice when he was in charge of Lloyd Williams’ team at Mount Macedon he prepared horses for victories on the corresponding program and they later won the Melbourne Cup.
They were Green Moon, who took out the 2012 Turnbull Stakes, and Almandin who won the 2016 The Bart Cummings.
He also trained Mourayan (2011) and Tanby (2012) to success in The Bart Cummings and claimed the 2012 Turnbull Stakes with Zipping.
For his pair of stayers this Saturday it is doubly important as they need to win to get into their spring targets.
Schabau will run in The Bart Cummings over 2500 metres and he needs a victory to get into the Melbourne Cup as he is number 72 in the qualifying order.
The winner of The Bart Cummings earns automatic entry into the Cup.
Django Freeman will run in the Turnbull Stakes over 2000 metres and he also needs to win to force his way into the Caulfield Cup, where he is also number 72 in the qualifying order.
Hickmott said the former German stayers were both revelling in the cold weather at Mount Macedon where it snowed on Friday.
“They’ll have their last gallop at Bendigo early this week but they’re both ready to go,” Hickmott said.
Django Freeman has had three Australian starts this year for three placings. At his most recent he finished second to The Chosen One over 1700 metres at Flemington.
“He’ll strip a lot fitter. He’s lost ten kilos since his last run and he’s got good muscle definition,” Hickmott said.
“This is a nice race and he’ll get in with a nice weight of 54-1/2 kilos and he’s got Luke Nolen on. There’s a lot of positives but the query is whether he is up to this class.”
Schabau finished third at Flemington at his last start over 2500 metres behind Lord Belvedere.
“He was vulnerable late but he battled away quite well,” Hickmott said.
“He had a good blow after the race. Maybe he was a bit fresh and lacked a bit of fitness which was a bit of trainer and jockey error.”