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Mark Kavanagh says Cox Plate winner Maldivian is forward enough to perform well at his reappearance in Saturday's CF Orr Stakes at Caulfield.

But the Flemington trainer warned that the Zabeel 6-year-old would improve on whatever he does in the group one 1400m weight-for-age feature.

"He's never won first-up, so I don't see why that should change. But he should run a pretty good race," Kavanagh said.

Maldivian has never finished out of a place in five first-up runs.

In his summer-autumn campaign last year he resumed with a slashing second to Let Go Thommo in the Carlyon Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley before being sent out favourite in the Orr Stakes but finishing only 13th to Shinzig.

After his next start, when sixth to Princess Coup in the group two St George Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield, he was found to have gone amiss with a hairline fracture of a cannon bone.

At his first start back last spring the big gelding put in a blinder, finishing third to Light Fantastic and Weekend Hussler in the JJ Liston Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.

Maldivian is currently $6 equal favourite with Cox Plate runner-up Zipping for the A$1 million ($1.28 million) Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 7 and is among the nominations for A$2.25 million The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill on April 4.

"He's an exciting old horse. I wouldn't mind seeing him in Dubai next year if he gets an invitation," Kavanagh said.

The trainer said he also would like to give Maldivian another shot at 2400m after he failed at his only try at the trip in the Caulfield Cup when ninth to English import All The Good.

"He wasn't right on the day and maybe we'll try him later on if it is warranted," Kavanagh said.

The 12-horse Orr field boasts 10 group one winners, including two Cox Plate winners - Maldivian and El Segundo - who won both the Orr Stakes and the Cox Plate in 2007.

Trainer Colin Little paid up yesterday for El Segundo who has raced just once in the past 15 months due to a tendon injury.

He had been considering waiting an extra week and running the Pins 7-year-old second-up in the Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley.

Maldivian drew well in barrier two while El Segundo, with his Cox Plate-winning jockey Luke Nolen back on board, drew five.

Trainer Mick Price has a strong hand in the race with Light Fantastic posted as $3.80 favourite in TAB Sportsbet's fixed odds market and stablemate Alamosa at $8.50.

The pair drew out in gates nine and eight respectively.

Maldivian and the Gai Waterhouse-trained Theseo are equal second picks at $5.50 ahead of Niconero at $7, Von Costa De Hero at $7.50 with El Segundo at $9.50.

- AAP