TRAINER Andrew Dale is optimistic his emerging stayer Parliament could develop into a Wodonga and Albury Gold Cup contender after notching his fifth win for the stable on Sunday.
Parliament broke through for his first victory this campaign after saluting in the $26,000 Cootamundra Cup, (1600m) with Blaike McDougall aboard.
The Kiwi import stamped himself as a promising galloper in the making after he won four out his first five Australian starts after arriving from New Zealand early in the year.
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Parliament resumed from a nine week spell at Albury in July and finished outside the placings in three runs before claiming the Cootamundra feature.
Dale said there were excuses for Parliament not winning earlier this preparation.
"He had a couple of runs since resuming on heavy tracks and didn't seem comfortable in the going," Dale said.
"The horse strained his pectoral muscle second-up at Albury so we had to give him a bit of time off.
"He then went to Tutura third-up and had to lump 62.5kg over a mile after having a trial at Wodonga 10 days earlier.
"He took enormous benefit from that and the Cootamundra Cup did look a nice race for him."
Parliament started as a raging $1.80-favourite and looked likely to win by a big margin after storming to the lead a furlong from home.
But the five-year-old gelding switched off once he hit the front to win by a neck from Old Man's Angel ($6).
"Blaike suggested it may be time we took the blinkers off him," he said.
"Because it was like the horse felt he had done his job once he hit the front and was waiting for the other horses and having a look around and stargazing.
"He has done that a couple of times previously so we might have to tinker with his gear so he hits the line and finishes off his races.
"Blaike is of the opinion there is still a lot of upside to the horse if we can just get on top of his little quirks."
Dale said he would tentatively target the lucrative $600,000 Melbourne Cup Carnival Country Series.
The Country Series features eight $100,000 heats to be run across country Victorian tracks, concluding with a $500,000 final over 1600m at Flemington on Oaks Day.
"It's an option but I'm realistic how competitive it will be just to gain a spot in the final," Dale said.
"Long term if the horse can keep progressing the Wodonga and Albury Cups could be on the radar."