Maluckyday, considered one of the best of the local hopes in the Melbourne Cup, will first get the chance to topple the internationals at Geelong on Wednesday.
Maluckyday, the 2010 Melbourne Cup runner-up, will line up against three international Cup hopefuls in the seven-horse Group Three Geelong Cup (2400m) – a race which has been the springboard to Melbourne Cup success for French horses Americain and Dunaden in the past two years.
Co-trainer Wayne Hawkes expects Maluckyday to be right in the finish.
“If you can’t be all but winning Geelong Cups you can’t be winning Melbourne Cups,” Hawkes said.
“There’s your line in the sand really.
“He’s doing everything right. He’s going into the Geelong Cup, it is only going to be a small field and it will sort us out where we are going with him.”
Maluckyday’s campaign aimed at going one better in the Cup at Flemington next month comes on the back of a career-threatening illness early last spring.
Hawkes said he had been “blown away” by the way Maluckyday had returned to racing this spring after a year on the sidelines.
The six-year-old son of Zabeel has raced three times building up in distance to his last-start second in the Listed Bart Cummings Stakes (2500m) at Flemington.
“It’s half a surprise really because he was so sick and had pneumonia,” Hawkes said.
“We kept him at the stables at Flemington when he was sick because we thought we might as well be looking after him.
“He was just standing in the corner with his bum to the door and his head down and he looked like he was dying.
“To get him back and to see how he is going has blown me away because we always treated him like he was never going to return and he was retired.
“It was always going to be a chance he could return, but to finish second at Flemington the other day was as good as winning.”
French horse Brigantin, to be ridden by Italian jockey Umberto Rispoli, has been a well-supported favourite to book a Melbourne Cup berth with victory at Geelong.
He heads the market ahead of English horse Gatewood who was an unlucky runner in his Australian debut in the Herbert Power Stakes.