SAM Kavanagh had been there and thereabouts over the last 12 months or so.
However, it was six-year-old gelding The Fossil that steered the Upper Hunter trainer back to the winner's circle in Sydney.
In what was a dramatic photo finish, six horses hitting the line within half-a-length of each other, Kavanagh's charge got home on the rails to clinch the TAB Highway Class 2 Handicap (1500 metres) at Rosehill on Saturday.
"We've been back 12 months and we've hit the post a couple of times," Kavanagh said.
"We came second in a couple of stakes races with Sikandarabad (Premier's Cup, Parramatta Cup). More Sundays placed second in a photo at Randwick.
"So we've been right around the mark and in very strong races, but we just haven't got anything across the line. So it was nice to have a photo go our way."
Kavanagh, based at Scone and training out of Muswellbrook, returned from suspension last year having been sidelined since 2015.
He was thrilled to have another Saturday city winner.
"Those races, you can run them five or six times and get different results, but the horse was fit and well and ridden to perfection. We're over the moon to get a result. It's never easy to win on a Saturday whether it's a highway, midway or feature," Kavanagh said.
The Fossil, which also has wins at Gunnedah and Gosford over the last three months, edged out Lord Desanimaux (0.13 lengths), Can Do It (0.15), Tap 'n' Run (0.18), So Say You (0.34) and Chewie Two (0.52).
"He's no superstar, but he's a very sound horse that tries very hard," Kavanagh said.
"It was a very nice touch and it was very nice to win that race," Kavanagh said.
Monday sees Kavanagh saddle up European import Visinari for the first time in Australia, contesting the Spring Cup (1200m) at Tamworth against Kosciuszko slot holder Edit.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Scone trainer Rodney Northam landed a treble at Bathurst courtesy of Vivenzo, Overextend and Spiranac while Newcastle's David Atkins nabbed a double at Port Macquarie with Harvey's Way and Xiaoli's Ying.
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