Trainer Matt Cumani is excited about having import Grey Lion ready to return in the Group Three Easter Cup at Caulfield which will launch a campaign aimed at the Brisbane winter carnival.
Grey Lion almost won the Geelong Cup (2400m) in his first Australian start, and his first start for Cumani last spring when second to Qewy before failing to run out the 3200m of the Melbourne Cup.
Cumani believes Grey Lion is going well enough to run a big race over 2000m first-up on Saturday.
But he also expects him to improve with the race under his belt with a view to Queensland.
"He's such a lovely horse," Cumani said.
"He's a star to train and has lovely character. It's great to have him up and running again.
"He's in great shape. He's fit and happy and well and I couldn't be happier with the horse going into the race.
"Obviously we'll have to see how he compares to his competition and also see how the weather is."
Cumani said there was a query over Grey Lion on soft ground from his European form but he is still not convinced he won't handle it.
"But I'd still prefer him to see him on good ground," Cumani said.
Saturday's race has 28 nominations with Pornichet and last year's winner Leebaz heading the weights on 59kg.
Grey Lion, to be ridden by Craig Newitt, has 56.5kg.
Cumani has been training for a year having set up at Ballarat in country Victoria.
"With the hill track here you can get horses fit for these trips first-up," he said.
"But I'm not saying he won't improve for the run as well. Horses can always be a bit ring-rusty and need a race to bring them to 100 per cent.
"This is a nice first-up target and obviously we'd love to win it."
What Grey Lion does in the Easter Cup will help shape which races, over which distances, he contests in Queensland.
"There's a few different routes he could take," Cumani said.
The Darren Weir-trained Flamberge heads the weights with 60kg for Saturday's other feature, the Group Three Victoria Handicap (1400m) which has 27 nominations.
By Mathew Toogood
MELBOURNE, April 10 AAP