Mark Newnham has been waiting two years for his shot at redemption.
His talented gelding, Quackerjack, forced to travel three wide, no cover around the Kembla Grange course in the inaugural running of The Gong.
It's a position horses rarely win from, yet Quackerjack came within a head of pulling off a miraculous victory, only to be edged by Chris Waller's Mister Sea Wolf.
He proved his class by taking out the Group 2 Villiers in his next start, however Newnham still feels he has unfinished business at the Illawarra track.
"Three deep, no cover at Kembla over a mile, they don't usually run that well," Newnham said. "He'd drawn poorly, so there wasn't really any other position he could've been in. To see him still fighting out the finish, it just shows the horse's determination and willingness to get the job done.
"I don't cope well (with losing), I like winning. He earned $190,000 in prize money so it's hard to be that disappointed. When you come that close, it only means that you're desperate to win it and hopefully we can this Saturday."
The 2019 edition of The Gong wasn't the first time the trainer had watched Quackerjack run with gritted teeth, the horse making a habit of grinding away.
It's a quality that has led to consistent results, the gelding finishing top-three in 13 of his 28 starts, but ensures each race is a stressful experience for Newnham.
"He's been a terrific horse for the stable. He's known for his grit and determination, he showed that at his next start when he came out and won the Villiers.
"He's never been a horse that's been an easy horse to watch because he tends to out-tough them, rather than putting two or three lengths on them."
Newnham has experienced a frustrating two years since Quackerjack's last trip to Kembla Grange.
The gelding impressed in the 2020 autumn, taking out the Group 3 Liverpool City Cup.
The winter, however, brought a number of challenges and Newnham has spent much of the past 18 months working through minor issues.
The six-year-old returned in October for his first race since January, running fourth in the Filante. He then struggled on a heavy track in the Ladies Day Cup, again finishing fourth.
The goal all preparation has been this Saturday at Kembla Grange and Newnham is confident the horse is ready to win the $1 million race.
"He only had a 12-day turnaround into the mile at Hawkesbury. That's not ideal for a horse coming off a lengthy break, but it was his best path towards The Gong. The Gong and the Villiers have been his aim in the preparation.
"He worked nicely this morning. Josh Parr came and rode him and he gives himself up when he comes back and he's got a big smile on his face.
"You know he's happy, I was happy watching, Josh came back with a big smile and said he's ready to go."