Durendal’s affinity for Flemington’s straight 1200m-course gives him the chance to snare an early season Group Two win in the Bobbie Lewis Quality.
Co-trainer Simon Zahra says while Durendal is just below the top sprinters, he can find his place this campaign, starting on Saturday.
“He likes the straight and we’re just going to plot a little sprinting path for him,” Zahra said.
“He’s not up to the best of the best. He’s just below them.”
A half-brother to multiple Group One winner Flamberge, Durendal had a successful summer last season with three consecutive wins at Ballarat in late November before winning twice over the 1200m at Flemington.
Those two victories were in an open handicap in December and the Group Three Standish Handicap on New Year’s Day.
The gelding was sent for a break after a luckless run in the John Dillon Stakes at Caulfield in January and made a cameo appearance in May at Flemington when fourth in the Listed Straight Six (1200m).
“Just to tick him through winter we gave him the one run and then he just had a month out in the paddock and was back in again,” Zahra said.
There were 20 entries taken on Monday for the Bobbie Lewis headed by Stradbroke Handicap winner Under The Louvre and New Zealand star Xtravagant.
Xtravagant was taken out of the McLeod Stakes at Moonee Valley with a slight temperature last week but pleased co-trainer Stephen Autridge in a gallop on Saturday at Flemington and he said the horse had missed no work.
“He worked over an easy 1000 metres,” Autridge said.
“He will have another gallop on Tuesday morning and that will top him off nicely. He is a very happy horse.”