Former boom galloper The Inevitable has slipped off the radar over the past 12 months but showed he could be back on track with a trial win at Elwick on Tuesday.
After a stellar three-year-old season that netted wins in the Tasmanian Guineas and group 3 C S Hayes Stakes at Flemington, The Inevitable returned as four-year-old to win successive races at Flemington and Moonee Valley before a career-defining win in the $500,000 Silver Eagle at Randwick.
He got knocked from pillar to post when unplaced in the $7.5 million Golden Eagle at his next run but had already done enough to be ranked among the better horses in the country.
Although he hasn't quite shown the same form in two campaigns since - with only one placing in six starts - his five unplaced runs have all been in group 1, 2 or 3 races including VRC Newmarket and Goodwood Handicap.
His only real failure was at his last start at Caulfield in mid-October when he ran last, after which trainer Scott Brunton revealed he had been diagnosed with PODS - short for palmar osteochondral disease - which is an equine injury found almost exclusively in thoroughbreds.
It affects the lower ends of the cannon bone and is associated with high-speed racing and training.
However, in its mildest form, it is just bruising and, with early intervention and appropriate treatment, the prognosis is usually good.
Brunton vowed to give The Inevitable plenty of time to recover and bring him back slowly - "we'll take small steps and hope everything works out OK," he said.
More than six months later, the winner of eight races and $740,000 has finally reappeared in public with a nice trial win.
The five-year-old, ridden by Siggy Carr, shared the lead with the speedy Fitzwilliam before edging clear late to score by a neck with the other three runners five lengths in arrears.
His time for the 800m of 44.70 was easily the fastest of the morning and almost a second quicker than that recorded by stablemate Savs Finale in the other open-class trial.
ALGERNON NOT JUST ELWICK SPECIALIST
Trainer Imogen Miller has warned punters not to read too much into the Mowbray form of her smart three-year-old Algernon.
The Woodsmith gelding has an unbeaten record in four starts on the Elwick track - including Sunday's $50,000 Tasbred 3YO - but has been unplaced at both visits to Launceston.
"He obviously goes well in Hobart but I think you can put a line through his Mowbray defeats," Miller said.
"That's definitely the case for the 3YO Cup (when last to War Correspondent) as he wasn't right that day.
"His other defeat was in the Tasmanian Guineas (when fourth to Swoop Dog) and we still don't know if he can get 1600m."
Brendon McCoull positioned Algernon just behind the leaders on Sunday and he finished strongly to narrowly beat smart rivals Thunberg and First Accused..
"We knew there was a bit of pace in the race and Brendon got him into a lovely spot," Miller said.
"He's still a bit green and working things out but he did everything he needed to."
Algernon may get a chance to score his first win beyond 1200m in the $50,000 Autumn Classic at Elwick on Sunday week.
"We might go to the 1400m if he pulls up well," Miller said.
McDONALD SETTING FRANTIC PACE
Another three winners at the weekend has Troy McDonald still highballing it in the lead on the drivers' premiership table.
His 39 wins for the season, which didn't start until January 1, has him nine clear of Rohan Hillier and almost double the tally of anyone else.
McDonald has been steadily climbing the ladder since arriving from Victoria, driving 39 Tasmanian winners in 2018-19 and 65 winners during the extended 2019-2020 season.
He drove a double in Hobart on Friday night on Coveffe Hustler and Border Cross before scoring on Guys Bettor Bet at Devonport on Sunday night.
LUI OFF TO SA FOR SERIES OPENER
Peter Lui will represent Tasmania in the first heat of the 2021 National Apprentice Series at Murray Bridge on Wednesday.
Lui, who is apprenticed to Brighton trainer Leon Wells, has drawn bottom-weight Fire Thunder in a benchmark 68 over 1400m.
He goes into the race in good form, winning at Spreyton 10 days ago and having secured a top-four finish at seven of his past eight rides.
The second heat of the series will be held at Elwick on Sunday week.
Due to the shortage of Tasmanian apprentices, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and NSW will send extra riders to make up the numbers.
TRAINING LEGENDS CANNOT BE SPLIT
Definitive research into the records of Australia's two greatest trainers, Bart Cummings and Tommy Smith, has revealed they share top billing for group 1 wins.
Until recently, the records showed that Smith trained 282 group 1 winners compared to Cummings' 268.
But research by racing historian Malcolm McLaren has revealed that some of those wins were in races that have group 1 status now but were actually only group 2 or less at the time.
Hence, Smith's tally has been reduced by 36 wins to 246 and Cummings' tally by 22 wins, also to 246.
Fittingly, the revised figures leave the two legends on equal terms and a long way clear of the rest.
Gai Waterhouse (134), Chris Waller (125) and Lee Freedman (124) are next.
Damien Oliver is the leading group 1 jockey with 118 wins ahead of George Moore on 104, Jim Cassidy 98, Hugh Bowman 93 and Glen Boss 88.
Tasmania's two most successful modern-day jockeys, Craig Newitt and Luke Currie, have ridden 33 and 13 group 1 winners respectively.