CO-trainers David Hayes and Tom Dabernig are hoping UAE import Almoonqith can take the first steps towards the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
After beginning his career in France, the son of Dynaformer won three of nine starts for Sheikh Hamdan and Mike de Kock in Dubai, including the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy (2800m).
Last seen finishing unplaced behind Brown Panther in the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup (3200m) in March, the six-year-old will make his Australian debut in the $90,000 Sweeney Estate Agents Handicap over 1500m.
Dabernig said he was hopeful the entire, who is already nominated for both the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate and set to be entered in the Melbourne Cup, could measure up to the top level this spring.
“He’s a real stayer and is a lovely sound horse with a nice temperament,” Dabernig said.
“He’s a horse that we’re still learning about but he’s got a high rating and he could potentially be a Cups horse if he finds his best form.”
Drawn in barrier two for apprentice Dylan Dunn, Almoonqith will carry 56.5kg after Dunn’s 3kg claim.
Pleased with the way the import has acclimatised in Australia, Dabernig said he was hopeful rather than confident he could win first up on Saturday.
“My gut feeling is that he’s going to need a run or two and over 1500m at Moonee Valley they might be a bit sharp for him,” he said.
“He hasn’t had a jumpout at Flemington, we took him to Echuca to have a gallop on the course proper and he had a seven-furlong (1400m) trial here at Euroa.
“I have seen these imports come out and win first up with a different style of training but he gives me the impression that he will probably need the run.”
Despite Dabernig’s lack of confidence, Almoonqith has been well-backed in the early betting with TAB, firming from $21 into $11.