Trainer Ian Albuino is optimistic Masahiko can improve and be hard to beat in the Skylla Lounge Bar Sprint (1300m) at Broome on Saturday.
Albuino and Masahiko formed a successful partnership at Broome last season, combining for two wins and a third from five starts.
Masahiko, previously with Gai Waterhouse in Sydney, found a new lease of life in Broome after failing to set the world on fire in Perth.
Racing for Albuino’s trainer son, Brent, Masahiko was soundly beaten in his three appearances at Belmont, losing by a combined 25 lengths.
Albuino says Masahiko, a son of Haradasun, will strip fitter after turning out for his season-opening Broome appearance on June 11.
He met solid support first-up and after leading he battled on well to finish third behind Hennessy Raider, beaten 3 ½ lengths.
“I thought he ran well for a horse that hadn’t raced in 10-months,” said Albuino on TABradio.
“He has certainly taken a lot of benefit from the run.
“1300m is still a touch short, but I still think he will give a good showing on Saturday.”
Masahiko, who has been in the money in three of seven second up starts, has drawn the outside gate in barrier 10. Michael Heagney retains the ride.
The biggest danger to Masahiko is the Rob Gulberti-trained, Carillo. The Teofilo gelding has not been beaten in Broome this season and will have strong admirers to make it a winning hat trick.
Meanwhile Albuino will instruct Heagney to adopt a change of tactics for Northern Jewell in the Broome Aviation Handicap (1600m).
The son of Northern Meteor controlled the race last-start and was only shaded on the line, going down to Red Glow by just under a length over 1300m.
“He went well and led, but I think he will take a sit this week,” said Albuino.
“The way he is working he should be very competitive again.”
Northern Jewel, previously under the guidance of Anthony Cummings, has one win from 18 starts, back at Hawkesbury two years ago.
In a field of 12 Heagney partners Northern Jewel from gate eight.
Albuino, who will also saddle Hashtag Lad, Sky Rhytmn and Jewel Of Denmark, says Masahiko and Northern Jewel are his two best runners on the programme.
RWWA: Julio Santarelli