Having drawn wide on the second line with Renaissance Man at both starts this preparation, Long Forest reinswoman Kate Gath could have been forgiven for thinking her luck was due to change.
But as she ventured forward to pluck the hat that would reveal her star colt's barrier for tomorrow night's $200,000 Alabar Victoria Derby Final at Moonee Valley, a feeling of trepidation had already set in.
"By the time I was called up to go forward I only had barriers seven, eight, 11 and 13 to pick from," Gath said. "It makes me feel better about what I got if I can use that as an excuse."
What she got was barrier seven. Not quite the despised back row but enough for most pundits to put a line through the brilliant son ofas a genuine winning chance in the 2575-metre Classic for three-year-olds.
And while Gath concedes that Renaissance Man - who is trained by her husband Andy - will now need luck to win his second Derby this season, she refuses to rule him out.
"The bad barrier has made it awfully difficult, he's going to need a lot of luck" the driver said.
"I'm certainly leaning towards going back as opposed to going forward and from there, at the end of the day, it all comes down to tempo.
"If there's speed on - and I certainly think there will be a couple of horses from the back row wanting to get around the field - we're a chance.
"Even a couple of quick quarters where the race is really genuine will bring us right back into play. Of course if there's no speed it's going to be awfully hard to get past these good horses late."
TAB Sportsbet rates Renaissance Man a $16 chance, which makes him the best local hope in a Derby dominated by New Zealanders or interstate raiders.
Queensland's Major Bronski heads the market at $3.80 from Lincoln Royal and Fore A Reason ($4.60). Courage To Rule and Chariot King occupy the third line at $6.50 with($7.50) the other runner under double figures.
By Jason Bonnington