Trainer Leigh Childs is confident that progressive gelding Zlatan will take plenty of improvement out of his first-up run in the Equiano Speed Yearlings Heat 6 (1600m) at Caulfield tomorrow.
Zlatan has not been seen at the races since he finished second in the Stony Creek Cup (2100m) in March, at the end of a successful campaign that included wins in the Hanging Rock Cup (1800m) and BMW Melbourne Handicap (2000m) at Caulfield.
The Dash For Cash gelding looked set for a big 2013 Spring Racing Carnival when he beat the likes of Fruehling, Waldpark and Moudre in a barrier trial at Cranbourne in August but a viral infection ruled him out of the entire spring.
Childs told Racing Ahead that he was extremely disappointed to miss the spring with Zlatan but said that his star galloper has returned from the spelling paddock in good shape and is ready to perform well this weekend.
“He came up really well and trialed great at the end of August, and beat some impressive horse in the trial at Cranbourne, but he got a pretty nasty viral infection and we just couldn’t push through it,” Childs said.
“We again spelled him and he came up really well this time.
“He has done a lot of miles; you obviously have got to when you run first-up over a lot of ground.
“You would imagine that he would get to the front and make his own luck.
“It has been a while between runs so we are just hoping that his fitness is where we want it.”
Zlatan has an inconsistent first-up record, winning by an impressive five lengths first-up at Sale on Australia Day 2012, but Childs believes it will be a tough ask for the six-year-old to record his ninth career victory in the Equiano Speed Yearlings Heat 6 on Saturday.
“There is definitely room for improvement and we would love to have a go at some of those country cups later on,” Childs said.
“He is a very clean-winded horse and he will be in it for a long way.
“It is going to be a big ask with 60 kilos and he is going to have to do it the whole way.
“He has been flying the flag for my stable and I bred him myself so he has been a great experience for me.”