Flemington’s Aurie’s Star Handicap meeting heralds the first Group race of the new Victorian season, doubling as the spring launching pad for several horses – and the resumption of a forgotten star.

Danny O’Brien has runners in both categories — Iconoclasm in the Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) and rejuvenated Volkstok'n'barrell in the Emma Duffy Handicap (1400m).

While Iconoclasm is building promisingly towards tilts at elite spring spoils, four-time Group 1 winner Volkstok’n’barrell is making measured progress in a comeback designed to restore the Kiwi’s reputation.

O’Brien has freshened the eight-year-old at Thirteenth Beach and was encouraged by a jumpout at Flemington last week.

But conservatism will be the theme with a horse who won five of his first six starts, eventually amassing $1.4 million in prizemoney, before losing form.

“He’s been off the scene for a long time and it will be a while before he’s at his best again,” O’Brien said. “He’s big and round and we’d expect he’d take plenty of benefit out of Saturday’s race.

“We’re hopeful he can get back to a decent level, but we need to get through this race first.”

Brett Prebble takes the ride on both Volkstok’n’barrell, first-up since December, and also Iconoclasm, a $7 chance on TAB Fixed Odds in the Aurie’s Star.

“Iconoclasm is going well,” O’Brien said.

“It’s his first time down the straight but he doesn’t know how to run a bad race.

“The expectation is that he will run well again.”

Provided Iconoclasm adds to an already imposing record (eight starts and two placings from 18 starts), he could target the Toorak Handicap and Emirates Stakes at the height of spring.

Iconoclasm will match motors with a string of quality sprinters at Flemington, including Sesar, an abject Bletchingly Stakes failure.

Team Hawkes have replaced Michael Walker with Dwayne Dunn and expect the colt to be ridden quietly. “The horse pulled up bright and well from his last run and his work since has been good,” Wayne Hawkes said.

Sesar, who performed well below market expectations at Caulfield, is $4.20 favourite on TAB Fixed Odds to atone.

By Leo Schlink, Herald Sun