By DAVID JOHNSTON, THE BORDER MAIL

Jan. 31, 2016, 9:56 a.m.

ALBURY trainer Brett Cavanough is poised to take on the country’s best sprinters in coming weeks after stable star The Monstar produced an eye-catching return to racing at Flemington on Saturday.

The five-year-old finished only a length off the winner of the listed Kensington Stakes, Headwater, in his second successive trip down the Flemington straight.

The Monstar is entered for the group 1 Newmarket Handicap at Flemington in March and Cavanough said all the traditional lead-up races, The Lightning and Oakleigh Plate, were all on the table as options.

The trainer also confirmed Brad Rawiller was in the mix to replace Daniel Stackhouse as the speedster’s rider at his next start.

“He has been around the money all the time,” Cavanough said.

“Every time we’ve raised the bar he has gone to another level.

“He just likes playing in the serious stuff.

“He got beat only a length and there were group horses all around him.

“He is probably in the top 20 sprinters in Australia and hasn’t struck gold yet.”

He is probably in the top 20 sprinters in Australia and hasn’t struck gold yet. He could be a once in a lifetime horse for us guys- Brett Cavanough

The Monstar’s most recent outing down the famed Flemington straight was during the Melbourne Cup carnival last year and finished third.

The winner of more than $200,000 in prizemoney was denied a clear passage to the line in the final stages on Saturday to just miss the placings again.

“He could be a once in a lifetime horse for us guys,” Cavanough said.

“He is lightly raced, a five-year-old and coming into prime time.”

The Monstar won the City Handicap on the first day of the Albury carnival last year before turning in a string of highly respectable runs during the Melbourne spring including a fourth placing in the group 2 Schillaci Stakes at Caulfield.

Cavanough’s three other city runners, last start Albury winner Cinastar, Just A Bullet and Thought Worthy, all finished well down the track in their races.

“I put the blinkers on Just A Bullet and D. Oliver said he was just a pilot and he raced through the bridle and overdid it,” Cavanough said.

“We will take them off next start.”

Thought Worthy is a recent stable addition after previously being trained by Rob Hickmott for Lloyd Williams.

Cavanough said he hoped to run the seven-year-old gelding in the Albury Cup.

“I’m not sure whether we’ve got problems we can’t fix,” he said.

Cavanough said Cinastar didn’t handle a rise in class at Moonee Valley on Friday night.

Headwater’s connections also confirmed the three-year-old would also be contesting the feature Melbourne autumn sprint races culminating in the Newmarket Handicap.

Headwater is trained by Team Hawkes which also had feature success in Sydney with Our Boy Malachi.