YEO-TRAINED gelding Ship In The Night went within a nose of winning the 2010 Colac Gold Cup.
The dramatic race proved to be his last for the year as a broken tendon derailed what loomed as a breakout season.
Two years on, trainer Mark Young hopes luck will be on his side when the seven-year-old starts in the 150th Colac Gold Cup, at Colac Racecourse on Sunday.
The Yeo horseman will start Ship In The Night in the $60,000 cup over 2000 metres with a mixture of hope and anxiety.
The seven-year-old winning the 150th cup on one of the biggest days in Colac racing history would be a fitting story, particularly given the challenges connections have overcome.
Ship In The Night came within a nose two years ago of becoming the first Colac district horse to land the Colac Gold Cup since Latin Rule won for Christine Wort in 1990.
But the Wayne Walters-trained General Mackjosh held on to upstage the home-town favourite, despite a huge effort in the straight.
The near-glory pre-empted heartbreak – Ship In The Night broke a tendon weeks later and a 57-week spell followed.
The injury cut short what loomed as a promising year given the horse had placed seven times in eight trips to the races in the previous five months, including three wins.
“After the Colac Cup two years ago he broke a tendon, he never really has been as good as he was,” Young said.
“It wasn’t so much a battle but they said he’d never race again. He spelled and we thought we’d give him a chance,” he said.
“He’s won after that but his form hasn’t been as good. He needs to step up and improve to win the Colac Cup.”
Ship In The Night’s recovery included “six or seven months in the paddock” and hours of slow trotting on the roads around Young’s property.
His return has delivered connections success, but they no longer get their hopes up and Young had a similar mentality ahead of seeing the field this week.
Young’s record in the Colac Gold Cup has also taught him to be cautious about raising expectations.
“I don’t know about regrets, it’s just racing. He raced well, he was ridden well and he didn’t win,” he said of Ship In The Night’s cup run in 2010.
“That’s why we’ve got him racing. It’d be great to win the Colac Cup.
“We started a nice horse in it one year and he broke his leg on the crossing, that was Chicago O’Brien. We’ve run second in it three times, Heroic Steel started favourite and ran fourth.
“So we’re probably due.”