Albury trainer John Whitelaw guesses it’s around 40 years since he last raced a horse at Moonee Valley.
A lot of water has gone under the bridge since, including Whitelaw’s 25-year hiatus from training.
Daisy Doutes, unbeaten at her past four starts, brings Whitelaw to Moonee Valley on Saturday to run in the Zouki Handicap over 1000m.
Whitelaw’s father Jack rode trackwork at Caulfield for trainers like Angus Armanasco, Basil Conaghan and Geoff Murphy while a young John helped out around the stables.
When his father decided on a training move to the bush, John followed and the pair had considerable success.
Part of their business was pre-training for Murphy and Whitelaw recalls riding Abdul, the 1970 Cox Plate winner, in trackwork.
With five children, Whitelaw, a farrier, stepped away from training to become a social worker and still works with homeless men.
But he knew one day he would return to training after buying a house, with stables out the back, next to the Albury racecourse, although he admits his absence may have been too long.
The 69-year-old has been back training for three years and on Saturday makes his first trip to town with the $6000 buy who has won almost $54,000 prize money.
“I hope she can keep up,” Whitelaw said.
“She’s a good little mare and she’ll try hard but it all depends on whether they’re too quick for her.
“The 1000 metres might be a bit short but she’s had a little break.”
Whitelaw says his children are excited at the new, expensive hobby which luckily Daisy Doutes has been able to support.
With the trip to town on Saturday, Whitelaw says there will be an army of support from family and friends.
Whitelaw remains hopeful rather than confident on Saturday.
“She goes like the clappers in front but she’s up against good sprinting mares,” he said.
“She’s been getting too much weight and she won with 62 kilograms last start at Wagga.
“She’s gone up through her classes so that’s what you’ve got to do now, go to the city.”
Daisy Doutes is a $26 chance with Miss Vista the $3.70 CrownBet favourite.
“If we can beat Miss Vista then I guess we’ll become famous,” Whitelaw said.