A mid-winter return race at Flemington on Saturday is being used as a platform for potential spring riches for sprinter African Pulse.
Trainer Mike Moroney has the colt ready to kick off his campaign in an 1100m 3-year-old handicap.
African Pulse was tested in the Oakleigh Plate and Newmarket Handicap in autumn and despite finishing 10th and ninth respectively, his trainer believes natural improvement can help him attain the next level.
"Our theory is that he wasn't far away in group ones last preparation and if he can find that three lengths or so with natural improvement then he's going to be very competitive this year," Moroney said.
African Pulse went to Sydney after the Melbourne autumn, finishing fourth in the listed Darby Munro (1200m) at Rosehill and fifth in the listed Gosford Guineas (1200m).
The son of Johannesburg spent a month in the paddock and Moroney says the colt is forward enough for his first-up assignment. He is unbeaten in three first-up runs.
"Being a colt still, we tend not to give them too long out and the other added advantage is that he's got good form on wet tracks, so he can kick off now," Moroney said.
"He's got a good first-up record and we're going to claim on him. Harry Kasim will ride him. He's ridden about 80 winners in New Zealand but is able to claim 3kg here, so that will help."
Moroney will also start Sophrosyne and Noble Park in a 1600m handicap on Saturday.
African Pulse is the first of Moroney's spring carnival aspirants to begin their preparations.
Dual Derby placegetter Sabrage will make his return at Flemington next month, while Ipswich and Caloundra Cup winner Shenzhou Steeds is due to arrive back in Melbourne from Queensland on Tuesday night.
Group one winner Glass Harmonium is in pre-training with the Toorak Handicap nominated as his spring return ahead of another Cox Plate start.