Two years ago David Bourne was elated with his then lightly raced three-year-old Zamorar, who had just been bravely defeated into second place in the group 2 P. B. Lawrence Stakes.
The trainer admits he left Caulfield that afternoon considering lofty plans for the young horse .
His joy was based on a number of sound reasons, including the fact Zamorar had emerged from hectic autumn and winter campaigns in such good order that he was able to run such a great race behind older, stronger and better-performed rivals.
But from that day at Caulfield, nothing seems to have gone right.
The country-trained three-year-old who seemed to be on every Asian bloodstock agent's shortlist, was now spending more time undergoing operations than pounding the track.
"On one hand we had big offers from all over Asia, and on the other hand we had an exciting horse with the scope and brilliance to make a genuine mark on the best races - both here and in Sydney,'' Bourne said.
"And here we are now, two years later, and he's only had a handful of race starts [since] and hopefully now we can realise all the talent we know he's got.
"He's had injury after injury. In fact, to put it bluntly, we've installed a new foot and a new throat into him, plus a little bit of patience, and now he's getting to where we want him.''
On Saturday at Caulfield, Zamorar is pitted against French stallion and one-time Melbourne Cup favourite Puissance De Lune, who makes his return to racing in the $200,000 weight-for-age event. The Sydney-trained Foreteller and imports Lidari and Spillway make for a race of depth.
But the bigger names don't scare Bourne, who believes Zamorar comes into the race in the same form to when he ran second two years ago behind Second Effort.
"He's had two very good runs so far this preparation,'' he said. "It's got to be understood that after two years we weren't mucking around; no kid gloves. We took him to the trials and issued him a challenge, and I liked his response.
"He's got race fitness [on his side], which is just so vital in these early races as his opposition are looking to peak in October, which hopefully we can capitalise on. And he's drawn to have the run of the race [in barrier one], which I know Katelyn [Mallyon] will be able to utilise perfectly.
"If they want to go hard we can sit behind, and if there's no pace we can stride forward.''
Bourne points out that he's more than comfortable going into the Lawrence Stakes with a young apprentice rider on the horse's back.
"Since we went to Cranbourne for the trials, Katelyn has been on him and the natural progression has been that she follow the horse into his races, and she's done nothing wrong,'' he said.
"It's interesting, I've noticed in all the years she's been here at Seymour he's responded far better to female riders than male. He seems to go so much better for the girls who ride him in work at home.
"So we lose nothing on that score and she has a definite understanding of the horse.''