Slow start key for Niblick

Stable hand Maree Duell washing last year's Albury Gold Cup winner 'Niblick'.
Stable hand Maree Duell washing last year's Albury Gold Cup winner 'Niblick'.

ALBURY Gold Cup winner Niblick is set to launch his autumn campaign at Flemington on Saturday.

Despite drawing barrier 13 in the 15-horse field, trainer Brett Cavanough said he was still keen to run his stable star.

Niblick resumes from an 18-week spell and has a lethal fresh record with three wins and two minor placings from seven previous first-up attempts.

The seven-year-old gelding won the National Sprint (1400 metres) first-up last year before handing Cavanough his first hometown feature at his next start.

“He has to kick off his campaign somewhere and I need to get a run under his belt,” Cavanough said.

“He is pretty good fresh when ridden from behind.

“I have removed all the gear off him so I will spin him around, get a bit of fitness and see where he is at.

“There is still a lot of improvement in him but is where I want him to be resuming.

“This is not his grand final but he is going there as good as I can get him first-up.”

Cavanough has booked in-form hoop Mark Zahra for his first ride on the gelding and said tactically Niblick would settle near the tail of the field despite preferring to race handy to the speed.

“We will be asking for steward’s permission to go back on him,” he said.

“I’ve put Mark on him so he can settle back early and do his best work late, rather than being up front and puncturing in the straight when he is not fit enough to be there.

“Mark has got good hands, is a strong, balanced rider and will suit the horse — a jockey with the lot.”

Cavanough said next month’s Albury Gold Cup was once again Niblick’s main target this preparation.

Stablemate Prince Pedro will also run at Flemington after finishing last at his most recent run on New Year’s Day.

A post race vet’s examination later revealed Prince Pedro had suffered a pulmonary haemorrhage during the race which had affected his performance.

“You just have to forget he went around last start,” Cavanough said.

“But I don’t know if he is up to city class.

“I’ve whacked the blinkers on for the first time down the straight.

“There is just no races in the country for him with his rating so high so there is no other option for him than a start in the city.”