Lindsay Park's Nicolini Vito is one of those staple gallopers that appears year after year when the off-season kicks into full swing.

The Ben, Will and JD Hayes-trained galloper commences his latest campaign in the Listed Hareeba Stakes (1200m) at Mornington on Saturday.

Nicolini Vito first appeared as a two-year-old in April 2020 and has raced every year since, although Saturday's outing will be his first for 2024.

Ben Hayes explained the stable had hoped Nicolini Vito would have been up and going earlier than Saturday, but he was not pleasing the team.

So instead of pressing on, they hit the pause button.

Nicolini Vito has not raced since finishing ninth in a Listed 1400m race at Flemington last October, while the galloper's last win was over that course and distance in December 2022.

"He's a horse that we've had to take our time with a bit," Hayes said.

"He came in, but didn't quite come up, so we turned him out again.

"He's getting a bit older, so we thought we'd look after him, and bring him back for this quieter time of year."

Nicolini Vito showed the Hayes brothers that he still has the competitive streak in him, pleasing the stable in two Flemington jump-outs in preparation for Saturday's return.

But Hayes also said Saturday's race was far from being an easy first-up assignment.

"Nine is a sticky draw, but it is a field of 15, so it should open up," Hayes said.

"I think the way he's going, and he's a good fresh horse, I would expect him to run well.

"There's plenty of races during the winter for him and with his rating, those benchmark 100's that come up, they could be races that will suit him going forward."