Trainer Saab Hasan (Image: Racing Photos)
Saab Hasan has pulled off some of the achievements of his training career this season, but victory in the first race at The Valley this Friday night might just take the cake.
The Flemington trainer has two runners in the $60,000 Mooneevalleypark.com.au Maiden Plate (1600m); a gelding who is having his first start at six years of age and a mare of the same vintage who was unplaced at the picnics at her most recent outing.
Both Grand Mascot and Salsa Dancer will carry the green and black Crown Valley Lodge colours which belong to Dennis Stogryn, who owns the Tahbilk property that Hasan now also has at his disposal.
"Because of our relationship I thought it was the right thing to do by giving them a go and seeing how far they could go," Hasan said.
"They're both bred to get over more ground, they're both staying horses, and both of them I have ridden in trackwork and they give me a feel that all they want to do is stay.
"Because Dennis owns them, I feel obligated to do the right thing by him and give them a go."
Grand Mascot, who is by Helene Mascot out of Meridian Belle, will get his chance after recovering from a leg injury that was thought to be career-ending before his career even began.
"When I took over the farm, I was doing a bit of an audit on all the horses that Dennis has got and here was this beautiful, big horse and I reported back to him that there was nothing wrong with his leg," Hasan said.
"He said, 'What do you want to do'? I said, 'Every horse deserves a chance' and I just suggested we should give him an opportunity to get to the races and see what he's got.
"He might make a nice jumper later on down the track or he might make one of those 3000-metre horses at The Valley."
Salsa Dancer has been to the races four times but her last-start fourth placing at the Yea picnics has been her only start for Hasan.
Hasan opted for the picnics first-up for a variety of reasons, chiefly that she was lacking fitness and would benefit from the race experience, but although disappointed to see her unplaced, he said the excursion wasn't a waste.
"It backfired in my face a bit because I thought she'd run a bit better than that, but when she hit that hill she just got a stitch and never handled the track - it was too firm and she jarred up - but she's come on since then and I couldn't be happier with her," he said.
"Her work (at The Valley) was excellent on Monday. She galloped really, really well with the blinkers and the tongue tie on on Monday and on that work you'd have to give her a top-four hope."
Salsa Dancer (barrier eight), who will carry 55.5kg after the 2kg claim for Lachie Neindorf, and Grand Mascot (56.5kg, Matthew Cartwright, barrier 10) are the joint second outsiders in Sportsbet's market at $46.