Robert Hickmott is relishing the return to Lloyd Williams’ Mount Macedon property but more importantly, so are the two gallopers he is aiming at the spring features, Schabau and Django Freeman.
Schabau takes an important step on the road to the Melbourne Cup when he starts at Moonee Valley in a 2040m handicap on Saturday.
Hickmott received an offer from Williams six weeks ago to prepare his duo from the property and jumped at it.
Hickmott trained from there for nine years for Williams and prepared two Melbourne Cup winners, Green Moon and Almandin, before he left the fold at the end of 2017.
Late last year, Williams put the property on the market and sent his horses to Danny O’Brien and Anthony Freedman to be trained while he fielded offers.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic made the sale difficult as prospective international buyers weren’t able to get to the property to inspect it.
“It’s been very generous of Lloyd to let us use the property and it’s made a big difference to those two horses as they have settled in so well there,” Hickmott said.
Hickmott attends his Caulfield stables in the morning and then returns to Mount Macedon.
He said his wife Michelle, who has been all over the world as a track rider, had come out of retirement to partner the pair in their work.
Hickmott wouldn’t be surprised if Schabau won on Saturday but pointed out that he still had improvement to come.
He was also uncertain how Schabau would handle the track if it got too wet.
Schabau resumed at Flemington in May after being sidelined with a tendon injury for over a year, finishing seventh to Super Titus over 2000m when Hickmott said he needed the hitout.
The former German galloper had been undefeated in three prior Australian starts.
“He’s going into this in good condition. He’s much fitter than last start but he’s got improvement to come,” Hickmott said.
“He’ll be 90 to 95 per cent at Flemington on September 12 and then he’ll go into The Bart Cummings fully fit on October 12 and hopefully get into the Melbourne Cup.”
Schabau will be ridden by champion Perth jockey Willie Pike, who has been booked to partner him throughout the spring.
“He’s a stallion but his whole demeanour has changed out here. The only time you worry about him now is when someone gets on his back,” Hickmott said.
Hickmott added Django Freeman had developed physically while at Mount Macedon, likening the transformation to a boy growing into a man.
He will run over 1700m at Flemington on September 12 before returning to the track to contest the Turnbull Stakes on October 3.
“After that I’ll decide whether to aim him at the Cox Plate or the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups,” Hickmott said.