Chapada (Image: Racing Photos)
Even Mike Moroney would be understanding of what seemed to be a lack of love for Chapada until a few months ago.
The son of Bullet Train looked a staying star of the future in the first half of his three-year-old season, which was highlighted by a luckless third placing in the Victoria Derby.
Sadly, that became an all-too-familiar tale. Chapada was also unlucky in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas, didn't have things go his way in several other events and was stuck on one win for a long time.
But the owners' decision to maintain the faith has reaped rewards this campaign, which Moroney puts down to maturity for the horse who turns five on August 1.
"He's got a long way stronger now and hence his form's stayed a bit more consistent," Moroney said.
"Certainly last spring he was a little bit disappointing, he wasn't quite strong enough to probably take the weight he was given in that class of race, but he's certainly got a bit stronger and older now and been able to handle that."
Chapada will be one of the leading fancies for Saturday's $120,000 Banjo Paterson Series Final (2600m) after three fine runs at Flemington at his past three starts.
A third placing over 2000 metres on May 16 suggested he might be on the cusp of a second career win, which he registered over 2520m on June 6.
His only start since was a three-quarters-of-a-length second to Lord Belvedere over 2540m on June 20.
He rises slightly further in trip this weekend, but Moroney said his maturity and new-found strength have him well-placed to again be a force.
"I can't see that being a problem," Moroney said. "He's had a couple of runs at it, so it should be ideal for him."
At the other end of the distance spectrum, Moroney has Milwaukee engaged in the $128,000 Listed All Victorian Sprint Series Final (1200m).
The Fastnet Rock six-year-old last start encountered some of the traffic issues Chapada has battled and Moroney is confident he is going well enough to win with clearer running.
"He was in behind them all dressed up ready to go and he never got a go at them," Moroney said.
"It's hard to know where he would have run, because you never know when they get in the clear, but he certainly did look pretty luckless.
"He likes the straight, the track conditions should be more to suit - I think he's a horse that just wants that little bit of give in the ground only, he doesn't like it too wet - so it should be ideal for him and he's getting down to a pretty dangerous stage in the weights for him."
Milwaukee will carry 56.5kg in the All Victorian Sprint Series Final, in which he last year finished half a length second to Malibu Style, who is again a rival this year.