VICTORIAN trainer Tom Dabernig has no doubt leading Southern District jockey Blaike McDougall can have a huge impact on the metropolitan scene as he prepares for a likely Group One debut this Saturday.
McDougall clinched his second Group level victory in as many weeks with a flawless steer on the Dabernig-trained mare Flying Mascot in the Group Three Tesio Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Flying Mascot won by over four lengths, and the lure of a $1 million prizemoney bonus means if she pulls up well, McDougall will ride her in the Group One 1600m Empire Rose Stakes on Derby Day this Saturday.
After making the shift to Melbourne last month McDougall has made an immediate impact, also guiding the Peter Moody-trained Oxley Road to a win in the Group Two Caulfield Sprint last weekend.
Dabernig gave every indication Flying Mascot will line up in the $1 million Empire Rose, if she recovers well, after the Tesio Stakes victory made her eligible for the bonus
"The seven day back up is something at other times of the year I wouldn't do, but over the carnival you tend to do it when there's a million dollar race and winning the Tesio makes her eligible for the bonus," he said.
"For the owners and connections, the horse always come first, but it's a big financial incentive.
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"She's a mare who has really improved this prep, she's only had the three runs for hte prep but on Saturday she won by over four lengths and the times were good.
Dabernig, now in the process of establishing himself in Warrnambool, booked McDougall for plenty of rides when part of the Lindsay Park stables.
He is convinced he will continue to gain traction in the hugely competitive Victorian racing scene.
"I started using him about three years ago I think when I was training at Lindsay Park and we were taking horses to Albury and Wagga quite regularly," Dabernig said.
He was getting some good results for me then, the first impression was quite good. He conducted himself well, he rode well and one of the first things I remember is he had that competitive nature to try and win.
"He was prepared to go to any venue and I admired his work ethic.
"When he said he was going to Victoria I told him I was going out training on my own and would use him when I could, but was only going to have a small team.
"He'll really suit Victoria because a lot of trainers race their horses in country areas which Blaike is prepared to go to. If you win on them then you stay on them in town, that's usually how it works.
"There's quite a few good judges who think he has what it takes to be very successful. He'll start to become popular and the next thing is trying to manage that. it'll be a positive move for him and maybe when the borders open up he'll ride a bit of both.
Dabernig said McDougall would also ride Lunatic Fringe, who he won on at Warrnambool earlier this month, in a 2000m race on the final day of the Flemington carnival.
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