Import Pilote D’Essai impresses Dabernig

Pilote D’Essai’s outside barrier doesn’t appear to be concerning punters with the classy import a well-supported favourite at Moonee Valley.

After a convincing Australian debut win at Bendigo in March and an eye-catching first-up second at Flemington earlier this month, Pilote D’Essai has been supported from $2.40 to $2 for Saturday’s Westar Trucks Isuzu Handicap (1500m) despite drawing gate 12 od 12.

Co-trainer Tom Dabernig was initially disappointed when he saw the barrier but said he still expected the gelding to run a big race.

“I think in a way it just forces your hand that you can ride him quietly and hopefully with the rail in the true position he’ll finish it off very strongly again,” Dabernig said.

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“Based on his first-up run with natural improvement we’re going into the race pretty confident. But from that gate I think he’s going to have to just be given a chance and hopefully the race works out for him.

“He’s definitely one to keep a close eye on because if it’s not Saturday, he’ll be winning his share of races. I think he’s pretty good.”

Dabernig, who trains in partnership with David and Ben Hayes, says they are still learning which distances will be Pilote D’Essai’s best but he expects he’ll be strong at 1600m and further.

“I think he’ll be definitely competitive in the spring but where he gets to I’m not sure,” he said.

“But I think if it’s not spring it will definitely be in the autumn. I think he’s definitely a horse that could measure up.”

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