Two years ago we were sure we’d seen the last of Wilander, the former star juvenile having earned his place at stud where he was ready to make a big name for himself.
Unfortunately though things didn’t work out that way and after a painstaking period of attempts, connections have pulled him out and sent him back to the racecourse.
Wilander was found to be infertile meaning the soon to be six year old will be given a second chance on the turf.
Wilander will run this Saturday at Flemington. His first run since finishing second last in the 2009 Schillaci Stakes.
The former Lee Freedman trained runner struggled as a four year old after being dominant in his juvenile career and the early part of three.
He won on debut way back in January of 2008, putting eight lengths on the field in the process.
Next start in the Blue Diamond Prelude he notched another win, this time by nearly three lengths.
As a result he was favourite for the 2008 Blue Diamond Stakes but he struggled and could only manage 10th.
Returning as a three year old he ran second in the Biscay Handicap and then won the 2008 Group 2 Schillaci Stakes.
He claimed one more Listed race the next year before his two four year old runs were well below par.
Now though he’s in work for David Hayes who is confident the horse can get back to the levels which made him a star in 2008.
“His track work suggests he’s pretty good but it’s a very big ask to be stepping out after two years with top weight in winter,” Hayes said.
“He’ll run well, but I reckon he’ll be better at his second and third run.”
Wilander has 59kg for the run but with the claim of Adam McCabe he’ll start with 57kg.
He comes into the 1000m test at a tough time, Australia’s sprinting stakes showing a heap of depth across the country.
He’ll run into Warm Love after her third in the Monash Stakes as well as the likes of Definately Ready.
It’s very much a fact finding mission the first time out for Wilander with no spring plans to be decided until they see how he goes on Saturday.
“I want to place him conservatively but if he starts winning we’ll get aggressive with him,” Hayes said.
Hayes has only a light influence on Flemington’s final meet of the season, Wilander joined by only one stable mate, Victoria Bluebird who will run over 1700m.
It’s a big step up for the horse who is straight into Saturday metro grade after a last start win at Tatura.
“He’s a progressive young stayer that won very easily at the provincials,” Hayes said.