by Craig Brennan, AAP
After an absence of four months, trainer Robbie Griffiths has been given the all-clear to return to the racetrack following brain surgery.
Griffiths underwent surgery on August 17 for an aneurism and received the final all-clear earlier this week by his medical team to attend the twilight meeting at Flemington on Saturday.
Two runners will represent the stable, Halvorsen in the Living Legends Trophy (1100m) and Igniter in the Christmas Giving Tree Plate.
Victory by Halvorsen would give the Griffiths stable a second memorable victory after the gelding scored at Flemington on the final day of Melbourne Cup week.
That win last month marked Griffiths’ first day back at the stable attending track work.
“I’m pretty keen to get to headquarters on Saturday,” Griffiths said.
“The doctors told me steer clear of the races, all the activity and all the multi-tasking.
“I’m still not going to track work every morning. This week I’ve been Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and I’ll go Saturday, but some of the slow days, I just work from home.
“I saw the surgeon on Monday and the neurologist on Tuesday and they’re very happy with everything.
“They said if you get a bit tired that’s to be expected, but if you feel like you’re ready we can’t see why you can’t do it (the races) now.”
Halvorsen won first-up over Saturday’s course and distance on November 9.
Although up in grade from a Benchmark 80 race to open company, Halvorsen drops 7kg and Saturday’s race is also being used as a tune-up for the Standish Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on New Year’s Day.
“We have our eyes firmly set on the Standish for him, but in saying that you would think the seven kilo drop off a last start win at that track, you would have to think he’d be somewhere around the mix,” Griffiths said.
“He’s done well since his last run.
“He had a bit of time on the water-walker and in the paddock in between and has come back to the stable nice and fresh.”
While Igniter is racing below his best, Griffiths is expecting improvement on Saturday.
“I think this is a race he could go all right in because he’s at a more suitable distance, while his Flemington form has always been pretty good,” Griffiths said.