The empty stands at Royal Randwick seemed eerie when Up Trumpz-owner Sam Shires returned to the races for the first time since Everest Day.
He's been one of the only horse owners to attend racing since the coronavirus changed the world, having strapped Up Trumpz in his last two starts in Sydney.
But now the presence of a few hundred owners will breathe life back into silent stands, with Racing NSW taking its first step towards allowing patrons back on course.
Owners will be permitted to watch their horses from trackside at Royal Randwick on Saturday, with Shires to be joined by fellow patrons cheering on their runners in the BenchMark 78 (1200 metres).
"It's very exciting. I love everything about racing, the atmosphere, the colours, the horses and betting," Shires said.
"But the last couple of starts Up Trumpz has had in Sydney, it's felt like a ghost town. You look into the stands and there's no one, there's no noise, there's nothing.
"It's awesome to see a bit of a crowd again, everyone [in my family] is keen to get back to the races.
"Without owners there's no racing. They put all the money into horses for the end result of being able to watch them.
"You don't get the same feeling watching them on TV than live on the track side."
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Shires and his family own five-year-old Up Trumpz, who is gunning for a second straight appearance in the $1.3 million Kosciuszko.
The Joe-Cleary trained gelding has placed in five of his last six starts since the Kosciuszko, including four seconds and a third.
"He's never really let us down, he's been a really good horse," Shires said.
"A lot of people don't get a horse as good as him, the family love going to watch him race and giving him a pat.
"It'll be good if we can get into the Kosciuszko again, we had a great time last year. He's got another 12 months under his belt and has matured further, if he could get there that would be great."
Up Trumpz wins once every seven starts according to his record but Cleary is confident of gaining another ticket to the Kosciuszko given he's a regular place-getter.
He'll send the five-year-old sprinter to Grafton following Saturday's meet, then shift his focus to Everest Day.
The Queanbeyan-based trainer is also pressing hard for the $1.3 million race with Glamour Cat, who has been accepted in Saturday's Highway Class 3 Handicap (1100 metres).
The four-year-old mare has claimed two wins from her five starts with Cleary's stable, having changed trainers from Sydney-based Anthony Cummings in January.
Glamour Cat, who will be ridden by prominent jockey Nash Rawiller, has drawn barrier six but could be shifted further inside if runners are scratched.
"I'm really happy with her and she's drawn a good barrier, but hopefully she'll jump to barrier three and move a little closer," Cleary said.
"The wet track won't bother her either. She's raced very strongly for the stable and hopefully she'll get away with a Highway on Saturday.
"She's in the same boat as Up Trumpz, she'll be pressing hard towards the Kosciuszko if she wins.
"I've spoken to her owner Mr Harvey and he's given the all clear for another 12 months of racing. She's more than likely to go for a rest if she wins on Saturday, then focus on the spring and summer racing."
Kosciuszko-wining horse Handle The Truth will contest the listed Bob Charley AO stakes, while Matthew Dale's Man Of Peace has been accepted for the mile.