Longford trainer Andrew Roach has had to be patient with a horse he leased from Victoria almost three years ago but got the first of what he hopes will be many dividends at Spreyton on Sunday.
Red Helmet had gradually been getting closer at each run and broke through at start No. 7 in the Maiden Plate over 1150m.
Roach took delivery of the Helmet gelding just after he had been broken in.
"He wasn't fully educated and hadn't been to the barriers or anything," the trainer said.
"The bloke who leased him to me rang the day after he arrived to ask when he was going to race.
"The horse had just turned two and I said to him 'I'll see you at the races when he's about four'.
"And that's exactly what happened."
Red Helmet is now about to turn five.
Roach said when the gelding arrived he was "a runt and a weed" and he knew that he would need time to mature.
"As I found out, being by Helmet, he was also a nutcase," the trainer said.
"I've since been told that is typical of the Helmets. A few people have told me they've all got attitude.
"This horse was good on Sunday but the week before he was off his head."
Although Red Helmet is in only his second racing campaign, after having two starts late last year, Roach has given him three or four preps to get him to mature.
"I believe he's still only about 70 per cent in his head," the trainer said.
"It's quite exciting knowing that there's still improvement there because he does so much wrong.
"The race was run to suit him on Sunday, with Banca Star leading, but Mehmet (Uluciner) said he should have won by five or six lengths.
"When he got to the front, he wanted to stop and wait for the other horse."
Roach races Red Helmet in partnership with his son Chris, David Quinn and Matthew West.
A double at Spreyton on Sunday has given apprentice Erica Byrne Burke a strike-rate of 45 per cent in her first month of riding.
Since making her debut on May 9, Byrne Burke has had 20 rides for nine wins and four placings.
There was good support for both her winners on Sunday, with Amaword firming from $6.50 to $4.60 and Border Protection from $7.00 to $6.00.
The average price of Byrne Burke's nine winners has been $5.00, giving punters astute enough to jump on the bandwagon from day one a nice profit.
Seventeen-year-old Mitch Ford didn't quite achieve every driver's dream of winning a race at his first attempt but he did the next best thing.
After finishing fifth on Somedan at his debut drive in Hobart on Sunday night, he won the next race on Coolhand Easton.
Ford led from the pole on the Bianca Heenan-trained favourite and just held on beat Northview Dave who powered home in the sprint lane.
A graduate of mini trotters' races, Mitch is the son of former leading reinsman Scott Ford and brother of successful driver Nathan.
He spent six months in Victoria gaining valuable experience working for Andy and Kate Gath.
The Kristy Butler-trained Something Bettor was the best-backed winner in Hobart, according to betting fluctuations provided by Sportsbet.
The former Victorian three-year-old, having only his second run for the stable, firmed from $7.00 to $3.10.
He justified the support with a dominant all-the-way win over favourite Itz Montana Jet.
Something Bettor had put the writing on the wall with a close second to Rocknroll Turbo at his Tasmanian debut when $2.10 favourite so why he would open at $7.00 is anyone's guess.
The gelding had 10 starts in Victoria for just one win at Cranbourne last July. Notably, that was the only time he had been able to lead.
Globe Derby Stakes runner-up Kosimo defied a betting drift to score a dominant first-up win in Hobart.
Punters shied away from the four-year-old, probably due to his wide draw, and he drifted from $8.50 to $12.
But a good drive by Malcolm Jones saw him land his fourth career win.
Jones eased back early before racing one-out, three back and improving three wide into the back straight.
Kosimo had improved to third by the 400m and came around the leaders on the home turn.
Owner-trainer Mark Jones thought enough of the gelding to send him to Victoria last year during Tasmanian racing's shutdown.
He had two starts for a win at Bendigo.
Kosimo has since won three more races in Tasmania but it was his head second to Kohanah in the $50,000 Globe Derby final in November that stamped as a horse with a future.
Sunday night's win was only his fourth start since then and his first for three months.
Victorian racing officials are confident there will be international horses competing at their spring carnival despite two significant obstacles.
Staff accompanying the horses will have to do two weeks' quarantine on arriving in Australia, which was also the case last year.
Added to that, there are now new veterinary requirements aimed at reducing the high injury rate for overseas runners and they could have a much bigger impact on horse numbers.
The tougher scanning processes have sparked fears that some European trainers will put the Melbourne spring in the too hard basket.
Racing Victoria handicapper Greg Carpenter is still expecting international runners but won't be surprised if numbers are smaller.
Not many locals will be unhappy about that.
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