Iain Jardine is confident Nakeeta is “as good as ever” ahead of his tilt at the Stobart Rail & Civils Northumberland Plate at Newcastle on Saturday.
The seven-year-old enjoyed a fantastic campaign last season, winning the Ebor at York before finishing fifth as the first Scottish-trained runner in the Melbourne Cup.
He never threatened to land a blow on his reappearance in last month’s Chester Cup, but Jardine is hopeful he can bounce back in the £150,000 feature at Newcastle – granted luck in running.
Jardine said: “He goes to the Plate on Saturday and we’re looking forward to it.
“He never got a clear run at all at Chester, but he’s been in good form since.
“He ran in this race before (10th in 2016) and didn’t get a clear run that day either.
“We’ll need a lot of luck and hope the draw is kind.”
The Carrutherstown handler already has one eye on a potential return to Australia later in the year, adding: “The Melbourne Cup could be a target again. We’ll see how we go.
“He feels as good as ever at home. He wouldn’t have these targets if he didn’t.”
Nakeeta is a general 20-1 shot for the race, fondly known as the Pitmen’s Derby.
Trainer Ian Williams has made five entries, but the only one likely to make the cut is Byron Flyer.
“He’s an intended runner. He was a bit unfortunate to spread a plate at Newmarket last time after suffering interference,” said Williams.
“He seems in good form and he has form at the track, so hopefully he’ll run well.”